A GROUP of Dungog residents have won their campaign to take over management of the town's historic common.
Spokesman Allen Shrimpton said Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner confirmed the land would be reserved as a place for recreation and environmental protection.
Mr Shrimpton said a trust would be set up, probably by the middle of the year, and would be made up of anyone who was interested in helping to manage the common.
The common once covered about 242 hectares and was established in 1838. It adjoins the Dungog showground.
The residents' case for management of the common was based on a fear that if the large area of land was not used and properly cared for, parts of it would gradually be whittled away, as had happened in the past.
"Community groups, walkers, horse riders and a Landcare group, and the Karuah Local Aboriginal Land Council are all interested," Mr Shrimpton said.
Mr Stoner advised the residents that parts of the common were subject to claims by the land council.
Mr Shrimpton said he was confident the different interests would not cause conflict but improving the common would be a big job.
He added the site could become a notable attraction for Dungog where the economy was in the "doldrums".
"It is known that cyclists and walkers spend much more [money] in local economies than other tourists," he said.
Two big events are coming up at the common soon.
An eight-hour mountain bike competition is scheduled for April and a 10-kilometre duathlon in May.