Haughton River subcatchment draft HEV waters

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High Ecological Value waters

The Haughton catchment has a large number of important wetlands with several areas that have been assessed by the WQIP ecological values technical panel to be “effectively unmodified” (ANZECC 2000) and identified as having High Ecological Value (HEV) waters. These include upper sections of the Reid River catchment extending east to the Mingela State Forest, the southern and western slopes of the Mount Elliot Section of Bowling Green Bay National Park and the coastal freshwater and estuarine wetlands contained with the Bowling Green Bay National Park. The coastal/marine waters of Bowling Green Bay have also been categorised as HEV waters.

Reid River catchment

Reid River is a large tributary of the Haughton River rising in the south eastern side of Hervey’s Range. The upper section of the Reid River catchment is largely inaccessible and in a natural wilderness state and is identified as having HEV waters. A section of the area is managed by the Australian Defence Force as part of their High Range Training Area with an emphasis on minimal impact management. The area is unique within the BDT WQIP area, with river and stream channels contained within steep valleys and rock gorges with associated vine thicket vegetation. River flow cascades through steep channels and down waterfalls in the wet season. In the dry season many large, perennial, deep rock gorge waterholes persist, offering aquatic species dry season habitat and refuge.

Mount Elliot Section of Bowling Green Bay National Park

The southern and eastern slopes of the Mount Elliot Section of Bowling Green Bay National Park have numerous streams that rise in rainforest headwaters draining into the Haughton River and coastal wetlands and are identified as having HEV waters. Mount Elliot is a relatively high granite massif, supporting rainforest species, several which are endemic to this southern isolated outlier of the Wet Tropics (e.g. The Mt Elliot Spiny crayfish, Eustacus bindal). The rainforest is generally confined to above 600m, extending down through the creek lines. The southern side of Mount Elliot is drier with low vine forests and hoop pines restricted to the creek lines and valleys on the lower slopes surrounded by the lowland Eucalypt forest. The streams are generally smaller and intermittent with the largest being Majors Creek. The relatively high rainfall of Mount Elliot and seasonal flows of Majors Creek support several significant waterholes and wetlands in the lower part of this subcatchment providing important aquatic habitat through much of the dry season.

The Directory of Important Wetlands listed, Serpentine Aggregation also occurs in the Haughton subcatchment and contains the Serpentine Lagoon, a set of permanent and semi-permanent swamps and seasonally inundated areas, which connect to Majors Creek via Double Barrel Creek. This area is recognised as an important site for birds and other flora and fauna. However, this site was considered to be impacted by weeds and to have modified water quality and was not identified as a HEV waters.

Eastern slopes of Mount Elliot and Saddle Mountain

Streams on the eastern slopes of Mount Elliot and Saddle Mountain, such as Palm Creek, St Margaret’s Creek, McKenzie and Emmett Creeks, were also identified as having HEV waters. This area is wetter than the southern slopes, with riparian areas supporting rainforest vegetation extending further down slope. These streams have more persistent flow through the dry season and offer important fish habitat with unimpeded connectivity a short distance across the floodplain into the extensive Cromarty wetlands complex and the saltpans and estuarine creek systems of the coastal plain. The streams on the eastern slopes of Mount Elliot National Park flow through alluvial fans, referred to as the Wongaloo Fans Aggregation listed in the Directory of Important Wetlands (DOIW). These are in turn continuous with the Wongaloo Swamps Aggregation (DOIW). These wetland aggregations make up part of the Burdekin-Townsville Coastal Aggregation (DOIW) a diverse and complex wetland aggregation that extends across the coastal plain from Cape Cleveland to Cape Bowling Green.

Coastal section of Bowling Green Bay National Park

The coastal section of Bowling Green Bay National Park is another area in the Haughton catchment identified as containing High Ecological Value (HEV) waters. However, some river channels are excluded from HEV categorisation in recognition that contaminants entering these waters from upstream agricultural and other land uses. The Bowling Green Bay National Park is recognised internationally as a Ramsar wetland and makes up part of the Burdekin-Townsville Coastal Aggregation (DOIW). The area is particularly significant for its diversity and extent of wetland types, representative of the richest coastal wetland habitats typical of the coastal wet-dry tropics of north-eastern Australia. The wetland is a diverse complex of coastal wetland systems formed on four broad physiographic types including mountainous areas of Cape Cleveland and Feltham Cone, elevated parallel dune systems, lower lying parts of the coastal plain and, an actively prograding sand spit at the tip of Cape Bowling Green. Over most of the area coastal mangrove communities give way inland to highly saline salt pans which in turn lead to the brackish and freshwater communities of the lower lying coastal plain further inland. The area supports a rich diversity and abundance of fauna including providing fish and crustacean nursery habitat and breeding and feeding habitat for water birds and other avifauna. The adjacent Bowling Green Bay, a gazetted Fish Habitat Area (‘B’) and Dugong Protection Area (‘B’), has also been categorised as containing HEV marine waters.

Related information

Haughton River subcatchment
Haughton River subcatchment

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