A coalition of leaders from regional cemeteries are coming together to form a Clark County Cemetery Foundation, a group that would help manage, fund and keep up the volunteer-run historic cemeteries in the county.
“Pioneer cemeteries have an inherent problem,” Joey Fuerstenberg, chief minister president of Vancouver Granite Works and vice president of the Brush Prairie Cemetery Association, said in a written statement.
“As our population ages and becomes more mobile, fewer folks want to participate with the management of our pioneer cemeteries. We are looking for a way to forever solve this problem and to ensure our historic pioneer cemeteries never fall into a state of disrepair,” Fuerstenberg said.
Many of the region’s pioneer cemeteries feature burials dating back to the early 1860s, and require maintenance and funding, as well as programs that promote their historic significance.
While some cemeteries have high-profile and well-known occupants, others are less visible. Sifton Cemetery, for example, is located at the end of a neighborhood cul-de-sac.
Representatives from Sifton Cemetery, Brush Prairie Cemetery, Wilson Bridge Cemetery and Granite Works Cemetery have expressed an interest in creating the coalition.
“We have decided that our cemeteries want to proceed forward and continue to make this a reality,” said Mike Tribe of Sifton Cemetery. “There are many benefits that coming together will bring.”
In an interview with The Columbian, Fuerstenberg said combining resources into a foundation was “an idea that I had kicking around in the back of my head for quite a few years.”
Maintenance at historic cemeteries tends to involve regular mowing, tree and branch removal, and keeping track of the cemetery’s records, Fuerstenberg said.
The next meeting of the fledgling foundation will be held 5 p.m. Oct. 8 at the offices of Vancouver Granite Works, 6007 E. 18th St. The event is open to the public, and organizers are encouraging anyone who wants to find out more about the Clark County Cemetery Foundation to attend.