Planting Seeds of Change: Katrinka Westendorf

September 23rd, 2014 No Comments

The Story of a Silent Steward

Every year as the seasons change, community members are eager to get out on the trails with their families and enjoy a scenic hike. The trail system is a key amenity feature that has helped to establish Lake Linganore’s natural appeal. Our community was built on an appreciation of the natural landscape and the trail system offers low-impact travel through various neighborhoods.

As the community is developed in the future, new trails will be established and connected with the current trail system. These natural pathways will always remain an integral part of what makes Lake Linganore unique.

The current trail system is a total of 30 miles, and as most can imagine, it requires constant attention and maintenance, year round. However, what most community members don’t realize is that Katrinka Westendorf, Co-Chair of the Trailblazers Committee, is the heart and soul of the Lake Linganore trail system.

Katrinka Westendorf

At first glance it is easy to walk down a trail and neglect to see the thought that went into its existence—location, topography, runoff potential, foliage, etc. Moreover it is easy to recall day-to-day inconveniences, like a downed tree on a trail, or a muddy washout. However this is when the commitment of Katrinka Westendorf and the Trailblazers Committee really shines.

Katrinka is the Co-Chair of the Trailblazers Committee–a group that was established in the 1990s to support the trail system. Katrinka has seen her committee grow, and change as the volunteer base has evolved. She has given years of dedication to our community as a volunteer focused on healthy and sustainable trails, and more notably in the last ten years, she has kept the group alive. Katrinka has worked countless hours with her fellow Trailblazers addressing the needs and issues that present themselves on the trails. The Trailblazers hold monthly work sessions where they visit problem areas and trim back overgrowth vegetation, remove debris and clear pathways around trail blockages (often after storms).

As a leader of the Trailblazers group, Katrinka gives so much of her time to organizing volunteer work sessions for the committee, however outside of the structured group outings, Katrinka has selflessly devoted her personal time to the health of the trail system. Katrinka walks many miles each week inspecting various trails and noting their condition. Sometimes she is accompanied by fellow veteran Trailblazer and Co-Chair Kathy Murtagh, as she travels through often rough and secluded terrain. Katrinka is, and has been for many years, the caretaker of the trail system and dedicates an immense amount of personal time inspecting trails and working with the LLA Staff to address issues.

Being a good steward of Lake Linganore’s trails isn’t simply a warm-weather commitment either—Katrinka visits the trails during all seasons—even in the dead of winter. In the planning of future connections and trail repairs Katrinka’s knowledge is invaluable to the LLA Staff, as she has an in-depth knowledge of the trail system during seasonal changes and can make thoughtful recommendations. Interestingly, Katrinka has somehow found the time to also volunteer at Catoctin Mountain Park, a unit of the U.S. National Park Service, where she learns popular techniques and best practices utilized by park professionals and engineers.

The LLA Maintenance Staff is composed of just three employees. In addition to their countless other grounds keeping duties, they work diligently to keep the trail system in good condition. Katrinka’s regular assistance helps to ease the strain on our Maintenance Staff. She serves as an extra set of eyes and ears on the trails, freeing the Maintenance Staff to address pressing needs at other amenities.

Most of the Trailblazers, including Katrinka, are retired and devote many Saturday mornings to tackling the needs of our community trails. Sometimes the Trailblazers work with local Boy Scout Troops in addition to the LLA Staff. Any large projects requiring heavy lifting or the use of large equipment is passed on the LLA Maintenance Staff, however the level of manual labor accomplished by this small team of committee members would surprise many residents. Moreover, without the thoughtfulness and leadership of Katrinka Westendorf, the community’s trail system would not profit from the benefits of constant care and attention. Much appreciation goes to Katrinka Westendorf for all her support and dedication and to Kathy Murtagh and the Trailblazers Committee for their enduring commitment.

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