BI waterfront trail to get new name July 7

Celebrate the dedication of the Charles Schmid Waterfront Trail at 11 a.m. July 7 at Shannon Drive in Waterfront Park.

New interpretive and wayfinding signage will be unveiled, and a new printing of the Charles Schmid Waterfront Trail map. The event is co-hosted by the city of Bainbridge Island and the BI Parks & Trails Foundation.

Schmid found deep connection with the environment as a Northwest rower and mountaineer and was never shy about keeping the city’s feet to the fire on environmental regulation, a foundation news release says.

“I think just seeing the natural beauty, the spectacular mountains around here, was a big philosophical influence on his caring for the planet,” said Schmid’s daughter, Jenny. “He was so passionate about mountain climbing, and he approached that the same way he approached the Waterfront Trail – slow and steady wins the race.”

Schmid brought his family to BI in 1970. If he wasn’t an activist when he arrived, Schmid soon became one. He and wife Linda were autodidacts, sponging up the literature of the nascent ecology movement and applying it at home on everything from conservation to recycling.

“They were way ahead of their time,” son Andrew said. “Environmentalism (in the 1970s) was more of a theory or a concept, or a political thing. Dad looked at it as a utilitarian thing, something to be fixed. He mostly looked at it from a rational standpoint, that you don’t just throw away a bunch of things that don’t need to be thrown away.”

Schmid became an early advocate for growth management, worked on the (unsuccessful) 1979 Washington bottle bill, helped start local recycling before it was offered commercially, and championed Home Rule, the movement for all-island government and local land use control. Jenny said, “He loved talking to people, whether they agreed with him or disagreed with him.”

Schmid became a tireless advocate for a waterfront trail, and public access to the shoreline and waters that he enjoyed so much. He planted trailside trees in Waterfront Park and kept them watered from buckets he toted around in a wagon. “Even his family didn’t know what he was up to, but he treated those little trees like they were his kids,” Andrew said. Schmid still walked the trail with the aid of a walker until he died in April 2022 at age 81.

A bench at Waypoint Woods honors Charles and Linda Schmid, who survives him. Jenny believes the trail designation honors them both. “They did all this together, and she really influenced the way he thought,” she said. “As a couple, they really talked through the issues, and shared this passion for the environment.”