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Wetlands project proves fruitful for recovery team

Two of the six newest Fruit Industry Employment Program participants are helping with the fire recovery effort at Kinnairds Wetland near Numurkah.

May 27, 2014 3:20am

Kerri Wilson and Alf Verduci (front) with Moira Shire Council crew leader Darren Watson and Krishnan Ramankutti are working on fire recovery projects at Kinnairds Wetland near Numurkah.


Two of the six newest Fruit Industry Employment Program participants are helping with the fire recovery effort at Kinnairds Wetland near Numurkah.

The program, run by Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority and supported by Greater Shepparton City Council, Moira Shire Council, Goulburn-Murray Water and Parks Victoria, received $2million from the Victorian Government last August to provide employment and training to orchardists and orchard workers while the industry transitioned in the wake of changes to SPC Ardmona’s fruit intake.

This week former Cobram orchard workers Kerri Wilson and Alf Verduci joined Moira Shire Council crew members Darren Watson and Krishnan Ramankutti to continue planting, weed control and rubbish removal activities at Kinnairds Wetland, which was badly burnt when fires swept through the area in February.

Mr Watson, the crew’s team leader, said they had recently planted more than 600 native shrubs, such as gold dust and silver wattles, hopbush and burseria, and expected to plant another 1900 before weather conditions became unsuitable.

Mr Watson and Mr Ramankutti have been involved in the FIEP program since its inception and were devastated that a lot of the weed control and revegetation work they had done at the wetlands last year had been destroyed by the fire.

‘‘It’s been rewarding though to see how well things come back after the good rain we had and the (660Ml) environmental water delivery,’’ he said.

Ms Wilson, the FIEP’s first female participant, and Mr Verduci said they were enjoying the work and hoped they would gain additional skills and experience that would help with future job opportunities.

Goulburn Broken CMA FIEP co-ordinator Corey Wilson said one of the other new participants would join the Parks Victoria crew, with another three working with Greater Shepparton City Council crews.

‘‘This brings the total number of program participants to 24,’’ Mr Wilson said.

‘‘The crews have achieved a huge amount in the past nine months. They’ve carried out 670ha of weed control, 23km of fencing, as well as seed collection, repair works, pre-burning preparation and rubbish removal — well and truly exceeding the government’s program targets.

‘‘We’ve really appreciated the support of the agencies that have taken on the crews, and they in turn have been really happy with the amount of on-ground work done by the participants.’’

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