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  • JJ McGinnis


JACKSON, WY – The Wyoming Wilderness Association will host a virtual film premiere of The Palisades Project, streaming from the Jackson Hole Center for the Arts on Friday, March 26. A collaborative project between Wyoming Wilderness Association and Square State Film, The Palisades Project explores the intersection of motorized and mechanized recreation, wilderness conservation, and the conflicts that have emerged. In northwest Wyoming, this story is playing out in the Palisades Wilderness Study Area (WSA), one of the least fragmented landscapes in the Lower 48 states not designated as Wilderness. The purpose of the film is to inform the public of this growing conflict, and motivate opposing sides towards a solution for the Palisades WSA and other wildlands like it around the globe. Following the virtual screening, Wyoming Wilderness Association will host a panel discussion with several of those interviewed in the film, allowing for the virtual audience to learn from, and engage with the stakeholders who enable the telling of this story. Promotional shorts, information on the film, and access to the premiere can be found at

The Wilderness Act of 1964 is a law that established the nation’s first Wilderness Areas and mandates how such landscapes are managed. These management prescriptions, including the omittance of motorized or mechanized technologies, provide the strongest available land protection, as to maintain the wild character of designated lands. In 1984, U.S. representatives, including Wyoming Senator Dick Cheney, passed the Wyoming Wilderness Act which added an additional 1.1 million acres to our Wilderness Preservation System, and established the Palisades Wilderness Study Area, to be managed for its potential future inclusion as Wilderness. This Wilderness Study Area is only one half of the Greater Palisades Area, which is a quarter of a million acre landscape that exists across both Idaho and Wyoming.

The Associate Director of Wyoming Wilderness Association Peggie dePasquale - who produced the film - shared, “It is a complex and wicked problem, because the landscape itself is complicated. Two states, two national forests, four county governments and countless interest groups are all tied up in the future of this one wild landscape.” Just within the last few decades a love for motorized and mechanized recreation has created a new wave of opposition to the protections provided by the Wilderness Act of 1964. Factions have formed, limiting the types of open-minded discussion that this film aims to inspire.

dePasquale understood the devastating environmental impacts from energy extraction, timber harvest and road building for most of her life, but was caught off guard when the greatest debate she found herself in as a wilderness advocate was with motorized and mechanized recreationists. “I love to mountain bike, I dream of heli-skiing,, and I have skied some of the best lines of my life with the help of a snowmobile,” dePasquale shared. “But I’ve always felt that the health and wellbeing of the natural world should take priority over my love of recreating, and assumed I was in good company… Well you know what they say about assumptions!”

The Palisades Project acts as a case study for exploring the nuances of this growing conflict. Recreationists want access throughout the landscape while conservationists passionately defend it as some of the most contiguous wild country left in our nation, deserving nothing short of full Wilderness protection. This film will provide the opportunity for differing sides of this issue to share their perspectives in order to inspire the audience - no matter their stance -to move toward a solution for the Palisades WSA and other wild landscapes like it.

About Wyoming Wilderness Association:

Wyoming Wilderness Association is a nonprofit conservation organization with a mission to protect Wyoming public wildlands through education, stewardship and advocacy. The group was founded in 1979 by local wilderness advocates who envisioned a wild future for the state. This small volunteer, grassroots group began educating, training, and organizing Wyoming citizens and successfully secured the passage of the 1984 Wyoming Wilderness Act. As of 2020, WWA represents over 3,000 members and supporters and has offices working on wildlands issues across the state. The future of the Palisades Wilderness Study Area is a priority for the group and they are hopeful for its wild future.

About Square State Film:

Wyoming Wilderness Association proudly joined forces with Square State Film to bring The Palisades Project to life. Founded by Mike Vanata, Square State Film is a film & video production company based in Laramie, Wyoming. Comprising highly skilled and creative individuals, Square State gathers for one main purpose: to turn artistic vision into reality. This will not be the first time that this team has joined forces. In their first collaboration, Mike Vanata partnered with Wyoming Wilderness Association to create Death of a Desert, a film geared towards raising awareness and support for the plight of Adobe Town WSA in Wyoming’s southern Red Desert. The Palisades Project is gearing up to be another big success for this partnership.


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