Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Wetlands Chief resigns

Michael Vanderzee has stepped down as CEO of the Winton Wetlands.

October 8, 2012 5:55am

Michael Vanderzee has given notice of his resignation as chief executive officer of Winton Wetlands Committee of Management, which has been accepted by the committee.

Mr Vanderzee said it had been a great privilege to have worked on the project for more than three-and-a-half years and to have been able to contribute to this important project for Benalla and north-east Victoria.

He said the project had its challenges, particularly with the controversy surrounding the decommissioning of Lake Mokoan.

‘‘It is also major long-term undertaking. The restoration, development and management of a wetland system by a community-based organisation has not been attempted before on this scale,’’ Mr Vanderzee said.

‘‘I have discovered that the local community is very passionate about the Winton Wetlands/Lake Mokoan, and I too now share that passion.

‘‘It has a tremendous history — as an Aboriginal meeting place, a place where five or six generations of local families lived prior to the construction of Lake Mokoan, as Victoria’s fifth largest water storage and popular local boating, fishing and hunting spot and, most recently following the decommissioning, as the Winton Wetlands.’’

Mr Vanderzee said while decommissioning was deeply divisive for the local community, people nonetheless participated in the development of the Lake Mokoan Future Land Use Strategy and succeeded in convincing the government of the day to commit up to $20million towards the project.

‘‘It has been very heartening to see the increasing community support for the project since I started in the role of CEO in February 2010.

‘‘I would like to thank the many people in Benalla and north-east Victoria for their support in getting this project off the ground, the staff and members of the committee and, in particular, the local community for generously sharing their knowledge and insights.

‘‘I wish the new committee all the best with the next stage of the Winton Wetlands.’’

Committee of Management chairman Dennis O’Brien said: ‘‘Whilst we are all saddened by Mr Vanderzee’s resignation, we are also grateful for everything he has done.’’

‘‘His work instituting the foundations of the organisation and leading the development of the master plan will guide the development of the Winton Wetlands over the next decade.

‘‘We thank Mr Vanderzee and wish him all the best in his future career beyond his involvement with the Winton Wetlands.’’

Mr O’Brien said a formal recruitment process would take place in early 2013 to appoint a new chief executive officer to lead the implementation phase of the project. In the interim the committee will appoint an acting chief executive officer.

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