A Day-in-the-Life with Loren Quam & ALCC Crew 641: Chapter 1

In Part Two of our series on Bears Ears Partnership's collaborative conservation work, Loren Quam - leader of Ancestral Lands Conservation Corps (ALCC) Crew #641 - shares his experience on a recent hitch in Grand Gulch. Read the full first chapter of his blog post, "A Day-in-the Life with Loren Quam & ALCC Crew 641" here!

If you missed Part One, or want to refresh your memory, read Part One, "Partnering for Collaborative Conservation in Bears Ears," here.

Chapter 1: Meet Loren

Keshshi ko' don dewanan a:deyaye? Ho' Loren Quam le'shina. Hom annodi:we Donashi:kwe deyan Anshe:kwe a:wan cha'le. Ho' li:ł Shiwinan ha:i' debikwayna Ancestral Lands Conservation Corps ani:kwanik’ya. 

Hello, how is everyone doing? My name is Loren Quam and I come from the clans of a Badger and a child of a Bear. 

I've been working with the Ancestral Lands Conservation Corps (ALCC) for three years now in the Zuni office. I started as a crew member and am now working my way up to a crew leader position. I wanted to start off by introducing myself in my native language since that is how we do it back in my home town of Zuni, New Mexico. In this working field, Zuni is where we meet new project partners from different locations. We are a camping crew, so we experience many obstacles ranging from vehicle troubles, mother nature, injuries etc., but we still manage to get through it with positive attitudes. In this line of work, I have been at different project locations around the Four Corners region, but my most visited and memorable place would be at Bears Ears National Monument in Utah.

Since I began working for ALCC, I have visited and worked at different cultural structures and sites on lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management, United States Forest Service, and State Institutional Trust Lands Administration. My crew and I have worked on various projects at these sites ranging from trail work, historic preservation mortar work, and site assessment documentation. Throughout my ALCC career, the crew has a schedule that we always follow, depending on what our hitch schedule is like. A hitch, what we like to call it, is when and where we start our travel time to the end of our trip, which usually consists of 8-10 days.

The crew starts off their day by making breakfast, usually starting around 5-6 am. After eating breakfast, we will wash the dirty dishes and secure our campsite so that we can start the work day at 7 am. Depending on schedule, the crew works for 8-10 hours, which includes two mandatory 15 minute breaks and a 30 minute lunch break. By the end of the work day, the crew will have a short break for themselves, then prepare to make dinner. After eating dinner, we will do the dishes, then head to our tents to get some rest and repeat everything the next day. On some days we will have a break from work, which we call recreational days. During this time, we will take a hike around, go do some food or personal shopping if we're near a town, wash our clothes, take a shower, or visit a recreational center or park, etc.

This time gives the crew time to bond and get to know more about each other. During my time with ALCC, I've never had a bad experience with any crew. The Zuni ALCC office gets compliments on how loud and funny we are; yet, this is how we can stay positive in different situations. This is one of many reasons why I continue to join the program each year.

Working at Bears Ear National Monument has been a highlight of my career so far. Every time a crew makes a trip to Bears Ears National Monument, we work with the same group of project partners who include Shanna, Grace, Britt, Ryan, Jason, Corey, Lyle and Daniel. I've been to many project locations meeting MANY different people, which is hard to remember, but I will never forget the ones who I listed above just because we've been through tough situations together, and somehow, we keep running back into each other. We've also shared many teachings, experiences and stories with each other, which makes it hard to forget the times we spent together. 

Our recent project with Bears Ears Partnership was my first hitch as a crew leader for Crew 641, and was the most challenging (both physically and mentally) that I personally encountered - it was a memorable one. It involved backpacking in Grand Gulch for a total of 6 days. This was where I learned a lot about myself and about the crew that I was with…

Check back tomorrow for the next chapter of Loren’s blog post, “CHAPTER 2: JOIN CREW #641 IN GRAND GULCH.”