Our dear friend Sonia Schmitt passed away last January. We are saddened by our loss but remember her with joy as we recall walking with her through her Titus Creek property. On those walks, she shared stories of how she and Carl returned to Walla Walla after their retirement, bought property between Titus and Mill Creeks, and then set about to preserve all of the adjacent land in that small valley. Their conservation goals led to the creation of the Blue Mountain Land Trust in 1999.
When Carl and Sonia Schmitt retired to Walla Walla, their home outside of town was surrounded by everything that Sonia, a Walla Walla native, had always loved about the area. But within just a few years, they saw the lush forests and productive farmland give way to new homes. When a neighboring landowner announced plans for development and a private airstrip, Carl and Sonia knew they had to act fast to protect the land they loved.
The Schmitts were able to convince their neighbors to sell them their land rather than develop it, but they knew that was only a temporary solution, forestalling development only so long as they continued to own the property. They sought a way to protect their land permanently but realized there was no group in the Walla Walla area that could help them with their goals.
Rather than accept defeat, they united with other individuals concerned about the future of land use in the area and formed the Blue Mountain Land Trust charged with the mission of working with landowners to protect natural and scenic views and working farmland from development. Carl and Sonia then donated a conservation easement on their property to the newly formed land trust, ensuring that their sixty acres would remain forests and farmland, rather than being carved into five-acre lots for development.
The Schmitt property is a crown jewel of land that forms the Mill Creek basin. We are honored to protect their property forever.