Midcoast Conservancy said Wednesday it has permanently protected one of the largest parcels of land in the midcoast.

The land, a piece of which is home to Hidden Valley Nature Center, totals almost 1,000 acres with over a mile of frontage on Egypt Road in Jefferson.

“This acquisition boldly confirms the driving force behind the merger in 2016 of four conservation organizations to form Midcoast Conservancy. A key aim of the merger was to enable large scale protection of land,” said Jody Jones, Midcoast Conservancy’s executive director. “The Hidden Valley Nature Center property is the largest single land conservation project ever completed by the organization or any of its four founding organizations. And it has been done in record time.”

Located near more than 3,000 acres of other permanently protected property, the land offers habitat for native plants and animals, including moose, coyotes, pileated woodpeckers, hawks and migratory songbirds. Permanent protection also provides buffers from contaminants contained in runoff flowing into Little Dyer Pond and its streams, the conservancy said.

The parcel includes a diverse array of wetland habitat types, over one mile of shore on Little Dyer Pond, nearly a mile of frontage on Stearns Brook, and numerous vernal pools for breeding amphibians including wood frogs and spotted salamanders. The rare four-toed salamander, which is under threat, has also been found on the property.

Established public access also will be protected.

“From a community perspective, the Hidden Valley Nature Center property has become a magnet for people of all ages who come to enjoy 25 miles of trails open to the public, sunrise to sunset,” said Andy Bezon, director of community programs.

Hidden Valley trails are open for hiking, trail running, snowshoeing, cross country skiing and mountain biking. The property’s waterways are open for canoeing, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding and fishing. Four rustic huts and two yurts at the nature center are available for overnight stays year-round.

“HVNC has been a part of our family for many years – we’ve enjoyed many hikes, runs, skis, overnights and moments of peaceful solitude in the beauty of nature there,” said Keri Lupien, a long-time user of the property. We’re so happy that this wonderful gift, right in the backyards of so many people here in the midcoast, will be preserved for many more generations to come.”

Midcoast Conservancy hosts events at the nature center, including a biathlon, a music festival and a fall half-marathon trail race. The nature center also is home to workshops on timber frame construction and hosts school field trips.

Midcoast Conservancy has leased the land at Hidden Valley Nature Center for the last two years, but the acquisition means the land becomes protected forever as a community forest with public access guaranteed.

The purchase was made possible by a grant of $400,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, contributions from the Elmina B. Sewall Foundation and Jane’s Trust and private donations, including from all of Midcoast Conservancy’s board members. The U.S. Forest Service ranked Midcoast Conservancy’s proposal as one of the top three in the nation last year.