Cobblestone beaches and the dramatic ocean cliffs. Mossy forests and scenic trout ponds. Open mountaintops and a roaming moose. These are some of the scenes you’ll enjoy in the new outdoor film “Untold Secret,” recently released by the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands.
The 21-minute film, produced by Portland-based 360 Media Ventures, showcases some of the state’s most spectacular and often overlooked outdoor recreation areas.
More specifically, the film introduces people to more than 600,000 acres of wilderness that make up Maine Public Lands, a collection of state-owned properties that are managed for outdoor recreation, wildlife, habitat conservation and timber harvesting.
“They’re just spectacular places ecologically and recreationally,” said Andy Cutko, the director of the Bureau of Parks and Lands. “We want the public to know they’re out there.”
Maine Public Lands are managed by the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands, which also manages 48 state parks and historic sites, as well as multi-use trails and conservation easements throughout the state.
“I think many of the parks are fairly well known,” Cutko said. “Places like Reid State Park and Popham Beach [State Park] and Sebago Lake [State Park] get lots of visitors, particularly in the summer. But I think a lot of people are not really aware of Maine Public Lands, these amazing places that have been protected and preserved for public use, places like the Bigelow Range and Donnell Pond.”
Compared with state parks, public lands are minimally developed, without visitor centers or large campgrounds. But they do feature hundreds of miles of well-maintained hiking trails and multi-use trails, as well as boat launches and hundreds of campsites that are free for the public to use on a first come, first served basis.
In addition, while state parks collect admission fees, public lands are generally free to visit. They’re funded by the timber harvesting operations that take place on specific areas of the properties.
“The title [of the film] really speaks well to the situation,” said Doug Reed, deputy director of Maine Public Lands. “I think for a long time, [Maine] Public Lands haven’t really been at the forefront. We’ve never really done much to promote ourselves.”
“Untold Secret” was paid for by a Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund grant and produced by 360 Media Ventures, a Portland-based content marketing company specializing in action and adventure videos. Recently retired BPL forester Vern Labbe spearheaded the project, with assistance from Reed and Rex Turner, BPL outdoor recreation planner.
“It was a great project for us,” said Rufus Frost, founder, owner and CEO of 360 Media Ventures. “We go all over the world for these kinds of shoots. Finding assignments in Maine are hard to come by, so when we saw this one, it was the perfect opportunity for us.”
In “Untold Secret,” Frost and his team weaved together commentary from BPL leaders with stunning footage of the lands, including bird’s-eye views gathered from drones and up-close shots of resident wildlife. A Canada lynx, moose, deer, snowshoe hare and loon all have a cameo in the production.
In addition to displaying the beauty of these properties, the film gives a behind-the-scenes look at how the properties are managed and used. To do this, the filmmakers followed a state wildlife biologist, a forester in charge of sustainable timber harvesting, and recreationists such as hikers and fishermen throughout various properties.
“Experiencing and preserving the outdoors is an integral part of our heritage, it is who we are as a people, and it is a cornerstone of our state’s economy,” Gov. Janet Mills said in a prepared statement. “Untold Secret builds on that legacy and encourages more people, visitors and Mainers alike, to explore our state’s public lands and to witness firsthand the unrivaled beauty of Maine.”
Maine Public Lands are open to a wide variety of recreational uses, including hunting, fishing, mountain biking, hiking, snowshoeing, paddling, camping, ATVing, snowmobiling and camping.
For people who are new to visiting Maine Public Lands, Reed suggest starting small by visiting properties that are more heavily visited and closer to civilization, such as the Dodge Point unit in Newcastle and the Pineland unit in Gray. He also suggests studying and carrying unit brochures and trail maps, which are available on the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands website.
“The more we can promote getting people outdoors — whether on skis or snowshoes or ATVs — the more connections people can make with the outdoors,” Cutko said. “Studies show that’s good for our wellbeing and physical and emotional health. So the more people who get outside, the healthier we’ll be as a community.”
The full-length “Untold Secret” film and segments are available for free use by educators, economic development offices and anyone else wishing to share and educate others about Maine Public Lands at parksandlands.com.