The Lovell Family Opposes the Bears Ears National Monument


Bears Ears, Trump This Monument, Lovell Family
Steve Lovell and Family Opposes the Bears Ears National Monument

When I was about twelve years old, I had the good fortune to go on a vacation with members of the Reed Lovell Family to visit the Fred and Ellen Lyman family in Blanding Utah. This vacation was a celebration for getting most of the summer work done.

About the third day of our stay in Blanding, we decided to drive out over Elk Mountain and see the beauty of the country around the Bears Ears. We had Erma Lee Nielson for the guide on our trip. She was in a courtship with one of the Lovell brothers. We were traveling in an older model Ford car, and about the time we reached the crossroads in front of the Nielson’s corrals at Pea Vine, the car quit us and we were stranded about three miles north of the Bears Ears.

Erma Lee walked with us down to the Nielson cabin in hopes there would be someone there who could help us, but the only person there was a Ute Indian named Dan Posey. Dan was then working for DeReese Nielson’s cattle company. We walked back to the main road hoping to catch a ride back to Blanding.

After some time, a truck came along driven by two cowboys hauling a load of horses. There was not enough room for all of us to ride back to Blanding. Neil and Erma Lee took the available seats, and my brother Austin and I walked back to the cabin. To make a long story short, they were not able to get the car parts nor fix the car for several days. We ended up staying there for most of the week. The cabin was well stocked with food, so we ate very well, and there were plenty of beds so this turned out to be a good arrangement.

Dan Posey took us all over the range putting out salt blocks for the cattle. We had a great time, and I fell in love with Elk Mountain. After we returned home, I always hoped that I would return some day.

Years later my wife and I spent a couple of days of our honeymoon in Blanding. From that moment on, I knew that I had a strong interest in coming back to make Blanding our home. My wife Adell was also congenial to the idea. After college and five years in Tooele county, I was fortunate to secure a teaching job in Blanding, Utah.

Bears Ears, Trump this Monument, Steve Lovell Students
Steve Lovell and Students

To me the Blanding territory seemed like the last frontier. I liked the feeling of the wild country and the culture of the people of the past. I wanted to convey those same feelings to my family and my students in school. For many years our classes participated in the Utah History Fairs. Our classes did extensive studies on the ancient inhabitants of the San Juan area. We visited many of the Anasazi ruins and did extensive studies on life as it was during that time.

After studying the life of the Anasazi or the “Ancient Ones” who dwelled in our area, we went to the West Water area and constructed a dwelling similar to that of the Anasazi. On returning to our class room, we constructed a diorama of an Anasazi community, as well as several other projects with petroglyphs and pictographs. We received some good recognitions at the Utah State History Fair, in Provo, Utah, after which we donated the project to the Edge of the Cedars Museum, where it was on display for several years.

One piece of interesting history of the area was the Posey War, the last Indian war that took place in 1923. “Posey’s Trail” was an important part of that history.  Our son Gavin decided to mark and improve the trail for his Eagle Scout project. We took to the site George Hurst, Lynn Lyman, and Clarence Rodgers, the three people who would know best about the event because of their personal experience in the Posey War.

Scouts, Steve Lovell, Bears Ears, Trump This Monument
Steve Lovell and Scouts

As they figured out where the trail went; we marked it. Later we got several scout troops to line the trail with limbs and rocks from one end to the other. A nice sign was made to mark the trailhead at the beginning of the trail on the east side. Since that time, several projects have been done on the trail such as making stairs over the fences and other improvements as needed.

The trail now is so well worn into the ground that trail markers are no longer needed. The District Cub Scout hike has become an annual event, and the Blanding Elementary fifth grade students walk the trail each year.

Our children have grown up in one of the best places in the world to be raised. Our family has a great love for this country. Many times we have gone back to the Nielson cabin at Pea Vine, where I had my first experience here, and my wife and children have grown to love this country as I have.

We have lived the old way, by using the resources of this land. These many years we have harvested wood to heat our home. We have cut thousands of trees for both cedar posts and Christmas trees. These have supplemented our income as we lived on a one-parent teacher’s wage. This was necessary to raise a large family. The deer meat harvested each year has also been a blessing to our family economy.

In our early years in San Juan County, we became heavily involved in the scouting program. In 1976 we began staffing our own council summer camps. Many good people have helped to make scouting a very successful program in San Juan County. Scouting added another dimension to our lives. It has also given me countless opportunities with other men and boys to see more of this country. Many scouts and I have walked over a good portion of this beautiful land.

This country was created to hike and explore. I had the opportunity to hike one hundred miles from Abajo Peak to Lake Powell. It was one of my greatest adventures. The scouts that participated in the 50 mile hikes were awarded a special patch/award for the achievement they accomplished. Because of my interest and enthusiasm for hiking and my position in the District Scout Committee, we developed a hiking program that offered hikes to hundreds of boy scouts through the years. Each one of these hikes merited a special recognition to display on their uniforms.

Hiking and camping with boy scouts has been the greatest opportunity that we have had to teach boys to love and respect the land. It is God’s gift to a multitude of young men who will become the leaders of the youth of our nation in the future. They can gain these experiences in no other way.

– Steve Lovell & Lovell Family


  • Trent

    I was one of your fifth grade students and one of your scouts! I hiked Posey’s Trail (and have gone back with my parents, wife, and children), made pots from clay and fire, and [insert all things scouting]. Experiences like these produced so much of the good in who I have become. Thank you Mr./Bro. Lovell! And thank God for the land that we love.

  • Mary

    I am one of Mr. Lovell’s 5th grade students. I learned more than just my class work from this amazing man. He showed me that no matter what you may struggle with in your life you can do what you put your mind too. (Like learning to read for me not easy!) I walked the Posey’s trail and listened to the stories of the “ancient one’s” from Mr. Lovell and learned to love and respect this beautiful country,and my home forever. I love to share it with my kids and teaching them about the land and how to care for it. I did not go to scout camp but I have family and friends that I saw learn and grow in ways that can only come from that experience. It brakes my heart to think that my boys may not get the chance to experience this amazing place like I and many others have. Thank you Mr./Brother Lovell for great example of life and learning.

  • Donna Arthur

    OUR children were blessed to be in Mr.Lovells class at Blanding Elementary.. and got to Hike Poseys trail each year..I got to go as the room mother..12 Arthur kids also learned to love our beautiful San Juan County..with all its magistical beauty..we still hike and love it everday… No monument.Thanks Mr.Lovell

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