COLUMBIA FALLS, Maine — The Downeast Salmon Federation received the largest donation of land in its 30-year history in late December 2012, according to a press release.

With a gift from the Bailey Wildlife Foundation, the 720 acres of undeveloped land and mature forest on Lake Cathance known as Deep Cove Forest will be maintained as “forever wild.”

Located in Cooper and Cathance Township, the property includes the entirety of Hog’s Neck peninsula and more than 6.5 miles of lake frontage. While overnight camping and fires will be prohibited, traditional nonmechanized access will be allowed, according to the release.

The Nature Conservancy, which assisted in the coordination of the project, held an easement on the property that details the wishes and priorities of the Bailey family.

The Salmon Federation intends to enlist the help and support of homeowners, camp owners and anglers who frequent the lake to assist the federation in monitoring the property and finance ongoing stewardship to improve access to it, according to the release.

“The lake is very important for a number of fish and wildlife species, notably landlocked salmon, endangered Atlantic salmon, alewives and loons,” said Dwayne Shaw, executive director of the Downeast Salmon Federation. “It’s an important ice -fishing location this time of year.”

In a phone interview with the BDN, Shaw said he hoped the community would support the organization’s stewardship of the land, which he said is notable for its old growth forest, extent of lake frontage and overall water quality.

Lake Cathance is in the headwaters of the Denny’s River and has some of the most well-known landlocked salmon fishing in Maine, being the first to be stocked with the species in the state, according to the press release.

“The lake is a tributary water source of Cobscook Bay, which is one of the most ecologically rich estuaries in North America,” Shaw added.

The entire region is dependent on the natural resources of the area, he said, particularly recreational and commercial fisheries.

“It’s important that the ecosystem remains intact to protect the water quality needs of these industries,” he said.

Merritt Bailey, president of the Bailey Wildlife Foundation, said in the press release, “We purchased this beautiful peninsula in order to protect the lake and forest for future generations. We see DSF as the perfect organization to place in control of the long-term stewardship of this land. DSF has strong local support and many active members, proven abilities to manage complex conservation projects and a true connection to the outdoor heritage we seek to maintain.

“We are especially impressed with the diversity of fisheries conservation work being done by DSF in this special region of our country,” Bailey said. “The experimental stocking programs, water quality research, school programs and other efforts all complement the habitat conservation effort of the DSF land trust program.”

Along with more than 2,000 acres of land currently held, the acquisition of Deep Cove Forest reinforces Downeast Salmon Federation’s commitment to protecting Maine’s natural resources, according to its statement. DSF holds another 600 acres of conservation easements on private lands owned by cooperating families along many Down East Maine salmon and trout streams as well.

The Downeast Salmon Federation, established in 1982, is a nonprofit conservation organization based in Columbia Falls and dedicated to protecting the natural resources of Maine. It is focused on four main projects: The Wild Salmon Resource Center, Pleasant River Fish Hatchery, East Machias Aquatic Research Center and Downeast Rivers Land Trust.