ST. JOHN'S, N.L. - The Nature Conservancy of Canada says a pristine valley hidden in Newfoundland's Long Range Mountains is the largest piece of land it has ever acquired in Atlantic Canada.

The land conservation organization announced Tuesday that Grassy Place, a 1,570-hectare property located at the headwaters of Robinsons River, is now a protected wilderness area.

"It's one of the few areas of true pristine wilderness that I'm aware of left on the island," said Doug Ballam, the organization's program manager for Newfoundland and Labrador.

"I spent two weeks there this summer and saw virtually no sign of any human presence. It's really like a little valley of the lost, a hidden gem."

Located some 65 kilometres from Stephenville Crossing, the nature conservancy says Grassy Place has the largest wetland of its type in Newfoundland.

It also says the area is important for woodland caribou, the threatened Newfoundland marten and other species of birds.

Ballam said the property had been owned by one family since 1904 and the provincial government made attempts to acquire it in the late 1980s but without success.

"Originally the landowners and their partners had it for sheep farming but it was so remote and the winters in Newfoundland are not particularly gentle, so the sheep didn't survive."

Ballam said the conservancy was able to acquire the property for $615,000.

At least one rare aquatic plant has been discovered on the property.

The organization's Atlantic vice-president, Linda Stephenson, says Grassy Place is a "true ecological oasis" replete with mountain summits and waterfalls.