Interment areas are those portions of the cemetery acreage that are developed for burials of either full casket or cremated remains. Interment areas may be subdivided into burial sections of varying sizes and shapes. Burial sections are visually separate areas, broken by vegetated areas (woods), roads, walks and topography. Burial sections for full casket gravesites shall be no larger than three acres. Burial sections for cremated remains shall have no more than 999 sites (approximately .2 acres).
In-ground interment areas for casketed or cremated remains shall generally conform to existing terrain. Final grades shall range from 2 percent, the minimum to achieve positive drainage, to a maximum of 15 percent. Avoid casket burials on steep slopes. Avoid extensive grading to achieve these criteria where such grading has an adverse impact on adjoining land or where such grading substantially alters or destroys natural features. Define interment areas by natural terrain features such as ridges, valleys or natural breaks in the topography.
Edges of burial sections shall be a minimum of 3 meters (10 feet) from edges of roads, drives and tree lines; a minimum of 6 meters (20 feet) from property boundaries or fence lines. The maximum distance from the edge of a road to the farthest gravesite within a burial section shall be no further than 120 meters (400 feet) over relatively level land. In areas with steep slopes, the distance from road to farthest gravesite shall be considerably shorter. Generally, for every increase of 5 percent of slope, there should be a decrease of 30 meters (100 feet) or more in the distance.
The topography will be the primary factor in determining the direction graves face within a burial section. Where the topography is not significant, road layout and accessibility will determine the direction graves face. A single burial section should have one predominant slope. Each burial section in the cemetery is identified, with the limits of the burial section clearly indicated by section markers.
Full Casket Gravesites
The National Cemetery Administration is committed to providing burial benefits to as many veterans as possible and to achieving the maximum development of gravesites within national cemeteries. The standard gravesite size will be the smallest size practical to accommodate the type of marker being used, to ensure appropriate gravesite appearance and to provide for safety consideration of employees. Each gravesite is marked with one marker, consistent with the requirements of applicable law.
The standard gravesite sizes will be used when conditions warrant:
As with full casket gravesites, NCA is committed to achieving the maximum development of cremain sites within national cemeteries. NCA will strive to provide cremain sites in all cemeteries including those closed to the interment of casketed remains. The standard cremain site size will be the smallest size practical to accommodate the type of marker being used, to ensure that the cremain site appearance is appropriate and consistent with any adjacent gravesite section. Each gravesite will be marked with one marker, consistent with the requirements of applicable law and NCA policy.
The standard cremain site sizes will be used when conditions warrant:
A memorial section may be located in areas of a cemetery not suitable, because of soils, terrain or landscape features, for casketed interments. The size and configuration of the memorial section will depend on the terrain, network of roads, walks, etc., the size of the individual memorial site and the demand at a particular cemetery for memorial sites. A memorial site is 900 millimeters x 900 millimeters (3 feet x 3 feet), marked with a 300 millimeters x 450 millimeters (12 inches x 18 inches) flat marker of granite or bronze, except that bronze memorial plaques may be mounted on walls designated for that purpose, in lieu of placement of a marker in a memorial section. These walls may be portions of other features such as retaining walls, terraces, etc. that are appropriate for memorial purposes.
Each burial section is marked by one or more section markers bearing either the number or letter assigned to that section. Section markers are an element of the signage system for the cemetery. Section markers are positioned at the edge of the section, usually near a road, drive or walk, where they are readily visible to the public. Design details of the three standard section markers can be found in NCA Program Guide Signage Standards.
Gravesite Control Markers
Permanent gravesite control monuments, which meet the requirements detailed in NCA Handbook, Interment Area Layout, are installed prior to the use of any section (burial, cremains or memorial) for interment. The standard grid dimensions are 27 meters x 27 meters (90 feet x 90 feet).