Keelbottom Creek

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Vegetation

Riparian Habitat

iTRARC analysis of Riparian Habitat indicates that this subcatchment remains in excellent condition. However the field surveys suggest poor condition, particularly due to weediness (which the iTRARC analysis does not detect).

iTRARC Scores

Catchment Class 1 A
Maximum iTRARC Score 26 (A+)
1970s Score 22 (A+)
2004 Score 21 (A+)
Reduction in Ecosystem Services No Change
Increase in Potential for Erosion Small
Reasons for Change in Score
  • An increase in the number of low cover hill slopes next to the stream network

TRARC (field survey) scores

Survey SiteScoreRegenerationWeeds
Keelbottom Ck, Quilps Lagoon48.7 (D)1 (C)1 sp: 2% cover (B)
Keelbottom Ck [#1]49.3 (C)1 (C)3 spp: 18% cover (D)
Speed Ck [#1]49 (D)2 (B)2 spp: 15% cover (C)
Speed Ck [#2]52.4 (C)1 (C)2 spp: 42% cover (C)
Camp Ck [#1]50.6 (C)2 (B)1 sp: 3% cover (B)
Camp Ck [#2]52.7 (C)2 (B)1 sp: 15% cover (B)
Keelbottom Ck [#2]53.1 (C)0 (D)3 sp: 20% cover (D)
Keelbottom Ck [#3]61.1 (C)1 (C)2 sp: 4% cover (C)
Keelbottom Ck, Cormorant Waterhole62.2 (C)2 (B)4 spp: 25% cover (D)
Keelbottom Ck, Yamba Lagoon64.8 (B)2 (B)3 spp: 3% cover (D)
Keelbottom Ck [#4]67.2 (B)1 (C)2 spp: 6% cover (C)
Keelbottom Ck [#5]67.3 (B)2 (B)3 spp: 16% cover (D)
Keelbottom Ck, Ben Lomond72.2 (B)3 (A)2 spp: 18% cover (C)
Average 57.7 (C)

Reference:Assessing the condition of Riparian Vegetation in the Burdekin catchment

Wetlands

This creek arises in the rainforest-covered mountains of the Paluma Range, part of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, thus providing the creek with regular wet season flushes of good quality water. Only a few other streams (eg, Star River, Running River, Michael Creek, Urannah Creek and Broken River) within the Burdekin Catchment have this advantage (Burrows and Butler 2000, 2001, Butler 2006). The creek system contains a wide variety of habitats as it progresses from rainforest through gorge country down to savanna rangeland habitats. The upper reaches and gorge country contains significant aquatic resources but due to inaccessibility, these reaches have not been studied. Most of the upper catchment is either within this relatively pristine rainforest or a military training area (Townsville Field Training Area), enabling a generally good condition to be maintained throughout the upper catchment. Despite many years of military use, the military training area is generally considered to be in very good condition (Ash et al. 2000). The Department of Defence has commissioned monitoring of the waterholes of the training area, including several along Keelbottom Creek, since 1994, mostly for water quality, sediment quality, macroinvertebrates (summarized in Burrows and Butler 2000 and Loong et al. 2006), riparian vegetation (Dowe 2006) and catchment run-off (CSIRO 2006) but also on two occasions for fish (Burrows and Tait 1999, Loong et al. 2006). The limnology of two sites along Keelbottom Creek within this sub-division (at the Herveys Range Road crossing and at Yamba Lagoon) were assessed by Loong et al. (2005). The first records of the exotic fish tilapia (Oreochromis mossambicus) in the Burdekin catchment were in 2004 from Keelbottom Creek, in the waterhole on the upstream side of the Herveys Range Road crossing, since then spreading throughout the upper Burdekin catchment (Veitch et al. 2006). They were also found within Speed Creek tributary of Keelbottom Creek, from where they may have originally stocked and subsequently migrated into Keelbottom Creek (Veitch et al. 2006).

The lower Keelbottom Creek is surrounded by grazing country and is a wide sandy river bed with complex riparian vegetation (although riparian weeds are often common) and some significant waterholes, creating useful aquatic habitat. The tributaries of the lower Keelbottom Creek (eg, Brinagee Creek, Thornton Creek) originate and flow through grazing lands, thus lacking the rainforest headwaters of the main Keelbottom Creek channel. They are mostly dry, sandy channels and their condition is considered to be typical of upper Burdekin grazing rangelands. Speed Creek is a tributary of the middle Keelbottom Creek. It has springs in its headwaters and contains some small permanent waterholes and significant riparian vegetation providing useful, though limited in extent, aquatic habitat. The Speed Creek catchment has many small farms in addition to grazing areas and its condition is considered to be typical of upper Burdekin grazing lands (ie, slightly modified).

For more information see Keelbottom Creek wetland condition summary

Reference: Assessing the condition of Wetlands in the Burdekin catchment

Water

SedNet Modelling of Water Quality

Model results for the Keelbottom Creek subcatchment are summarized as follows:

  • Subcatchment modelled area:1,627 sq. km.
  • Source contributions: Hillslope = 84%; Gully = 11%; Streambank = 5%
  • Area of subcatchment with <50% ground cover: 484 sq. km or 30% of subcatchment
  • Hillslope sediment supply: 487 kg/ha/yr
  • Total suspended sediment (flow weighted) supply: 94 kt/yr
  • Total suspended sediment supply (flow weighted; normalized to area): 579 kg/ha/yr
  • Total suspended sediment end-of-subcatchment (flow weighted) yield: 86 kt/yr
  • Event Mean Concentration (EMC - flow weighted): 433 mg/L
  • Mean Annual Flow: 197,885 ML

Reference: Improved SedNet Modelling of Grazing Land in the Burdekin Catchment

Hillslope erosion is identified as the major source of sediment and particulate nutrients affecting water quality within the Keelbottom Creek subcatchment (84%), and is predicted to contribute 487 kg/ha/yr. It is estimated that approximately 30% of the subcatchment has poor ground cover (<50%), although much of the the subcatchment is in good condition, with high ground cover. The total sediment losses from all sources is predicted to be substantial (579 kg/ha/yr) but may be overestimated due to steeper slopes in the upper reaches of the sub-catchment. The event mean concentration of sediment is predicted to be moderate to low (433 mg/L).

Water Quality Monitoring

There are no water quality data available for this catchment.

Relevant information of Water Quality Monitoring in the Upper Burdekin River Basin:

Environmental Values

Aquatic Ecosystems

A large area, corresponding to a significant proportion of the mid to upper sections of the Keelbottom Creek subcatchment and taking in the steep western slopes of the Paluma and Hervey Ranges, has been identified as containing High Ecological Value (HEV) waters by the BWQIP ecological values technical panel. This area includes sections of the Paluma Range National Park and the Townsville Field Training Area. A section of the Dalrymple National Park in the very southern section of this subcatchment, where Keelbottom Creek enters the Burdekin River, is also identified as containing High Ecological Value (HEV) waters. The aquatic ecosystem values of other parts of the subcatchment are considered to be Slightly to Moderately Disturbed (SMD) as a consequence of the surrounding land use for cattle grazing.

The aquatic ecosystem values of Keelbottom Creek

Irrigation

Suitability of water for irrigation of crops and pastures.

Stock Watering

Cattle grazing in some parts of the Keelbottom Creek sub-catchment. Water supply for production of healthy livestock.

Visual Recreation

Swimming, recreational fishing, dirt biking, sailing and boating. Swimming in Keelbottom Creek just off Harvey Range Developmental Road. Rope swings along the river at various places. Popular unofficial camping spot.

Industrial Uses

Gravel extraction from Keelbottom Creek averages 1400 t/a.

Cultural and Spiritual

Custodial use of water by Nywaigi traditional owners.

References:

Landuse

Principle land uses within the Keelbottom Creek subcatchment as a proportion of total area:

  • Conservation & minimal use: 59.5%
  • Grazing: 40.25%
  • Urban & semi urban: .25%
  • Mining: Limited mining water activity use identified.
  • Water: Limited water activity use identified.

Grazing Land

Keelbottom Creek is a relatively small sub-catchment where the dominant land use is for conservation and minimal use, but where grazing on natural pastures is also common in the lower parts.

Land Condition

Definition of ABCD land condition framework

Results of a Rapid Land Condition Assessment (adopted from Hassett et al. 2000) are presented below. The assessment has been devised to subjectively characterise condition while traversing the BDT region by vehicle. The data are based on a total of 4666 observations across the Burdekin region between 2004 and 2007.

The data were collected to provide independent information on land condition and provide a regional perspective. Resource assessment data are most useful when interpreted with other sources of data e.g. time-series remote sensing, modelling and water quality monitoring.

The estimated condition of the Keelbottom Creek sub-catchment is proportioned as follows:

  • A Condition: 82%
  • B Condition: 18%
  • C Condition: 0%
  • D Condition: 0%

Data from the Keelbottom Creek sub-catchment is based on 49 observations.

On the basis of the rapid assessment, the Keelbottom Creek sub-catchment is estimated to have the largest proportion of land in good (A) condition (82%), followed by fair (B) condition (18%). Data not available for (C) condition land and (D) condition land.

Ground Cover

Ground Cover in the Keelbottom Creek sub-catchment is proportioned as follows:

  • ( BC) Bare Cover: 0%
  • ( LC) Low Cover: 0%
  • ( MC) Moderate Cover: 12%
  • ( HC) High Cover: 39%
  • (VHC) Very High Cover: 49%

Data from the Keelbottom Creek sub-catchment are based on 49 observations.

On the basis of the rapid assessment (2004-2007), the Keelbottom Creek sub-catchment is estimated to have the highest proportion of land within the very high (VHC) ground cover category (49%), followed by high (HC) cover (39%) and moderate (MC) cover (12%) categories.

Resource Condition Summary

Keelbottom Creek is a relatively small subcatchment. While most of the land area has been set aside for conservation and minimal use, grazing on native pastures is common in the lower part of the subcatchment. There are many abandoned and operational mines throughout the subcatchment. Riparian habitat in this subcatchment have undergone no apparent change in the last 30 years and remains in very good (A) condition. This creek arises in the rainforest-covered mountains of the Paluma Range, part of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, thus providing the creek with regular wet season flushes of good quality water. The creek system contains a wide variety of habitats as it progresses from rainforest through gorge country down to savanna rangeland habitats. The upper reaches and gorge country have perennial flow and contain significant aquatic resources. Most of the upper catchment is either within this relatively pristine rainforest or the Townsville Field Training Area, enabling generally good condition to be maintained throughout the upper catchment. Lower Keelbottom Creek is surrounded by grazing country and is a wide sandy river bed with complex riparian vegetation and some significant waterholes, creating valuable aquatic habitat. The tributaries of lower Keelbottom Creek originate and flow through grazing lands, and are mostly dry, sandy channels. Speed Creek, a tributary of the middle Keelbottom Creek, has springs in its headwaters and contains some small permanent waterholes and significant riparian vegetation providing useful, though limited, aquatic habitat.

Hillslope erosion is identified by models as the major source of sediment and particulate nutrients affecting water quality within the Keelbottom Creek subcatchment. The rate of soil erosion is predicted to be moderate and close to both the basin and BWQIP region averages, while the total soil loss to waterways from the subcatchment is comparatively low due to its small area. Land condition is assessed as being mostly in good (A) condition. This is also reflected in the ground cover assessment (2004-07). However, analysis of satellite imagery (reference) identifies a large area of poor ground cover surrounding tributaries of lower Keelbottom Creek; an area that is also identified as highly vulnerable and marginal 'D' condition land.

Water quality in the Keelbottom Creek subcatchment is predicted by models to have only slightly elevated sediment concentrations during wet season event flows when compared to adjacent subcatchments (e.g. Star River). However, there are no water quality monitoring data with which to compare the modelled concentrations and loads.

Draft Environmental Values

A large area, corresponding to a significant proportion of the mid to upper sections of the Keelbottom Creek subcatchment and taking in the steep western slopes of the Paluma and Hervey Ranges, has been identified as containing High Ecological Value (HEV) waters by the BWQIP ecological values technical panel. This area includes sections of the Paluma Range National Park and the Townsville Field Training Area. A section of the Dalrymple National Park in the very southern section of this subcatchment, where Keelbottom Creek enters the Burdekin River, is also identified as containing High Ecological Value (HEV) waters. The aquatic ecosystem values of other parts of the subcatchment are considered to be Slightly to Moderately Disturbed (SMD) as a consequence of the surrounding land use for cattle grazing. The human use Environmental Values of the subcatchment are understood to include recreation (swimming, fishing & visual appreciation), irrigation, farm use, stock watering, human consumption, industry and the cultural and spiritual values of the Nywaigi traditional owners.

Maps

References

KeelbottomCreek.jpg
Download Catchment Layer as *.kml (requires Google Earth)

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