Valley cemetery banning graveside flower vases, citing health concerns

News

A graveyard staple will soon be banned from one Central Valley cemetery.

Board members of the Tulare Public Cemetery District said in recent months mosquito populations have exploded, and many are breeding out of control in monument flower vases filled with standing water.

“We try to put flowers — seasonal for the fall and spring and then we decorate it for Christmas time, so it’s a bummer,” Stan Martin who visits his family’s graves weekly said.

Starting October 1st there will be new rules at the Kern Avenue cemetery.

“Take your vases and take them home, or turn them upside and put them back into the ground and lock them back in,” Xavier Avila the chairman of the Tulare Public Cemetery Board said.

Avila said they’re hoping this curbs exploding mosquito populations, which are checked yearly by leaving traps out overnight.

“There’s usually about a hundred. A few months ago there was 3,000,” he said.

He said the metal vases are the problem because they don’t drain, and a new species of mosquito they’re seeing can breed in just a cupful of water.

He said there are 44,000 gravesites and estimates 10,000 to 20,000 have upright vases.

“The sprinklers will fill these up with water and then the mosquito breed in them, you’ll have (several inches of) water and there will be 100 larvae or so in there,” he said.

The Cemetery District will still allow flowers in the empty receptacles, which drain back into the ground. But Martin said it’s a little disappointing because his vases are special.

“I got my parents, they have their initials on them and everything, and their nice sturdy vases,” he said.

Avila wanted the public to know the decision was made based on safety and predicted it would be permanent.

Vases which are not pulled or flipped by the October 1 deadline will be held for the owner for an undetermined amount of time.

The new regulation will not apply to the North Cemetery.

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