Mistake Creek subcatchment draft HEV waters
The condition of the Mistake Creek subcatchment is poorly known. The subcatchment has a very low proportion of its area within National Park and other protected estate. Much of the catchment is used for grazing cattle, with large areas suffering from low ground cover and erosion as a result of grazing pressure.
The subcatchment contains several large, deep and persistent waterholes, mainly associated with the Mistake Creek. These waterholes all represent important aquatic habitat and drought refuge for fish, crustaceans and other aquatic biota. However, most of these water bodies have suffered some level of water quality impact. For example, the value of these water bodies to aquatic plants and the food web structure is affected by the high, permanent turbidity, created and/or exacerbated by the increased erosion of dispersive colloidal soils.
Two areas were assessed by the WQIP ecological values technical panel to be “effectively unmodified” (ANZECC 2000) and have been identified as containing High Ecological Value (HEV) waters. These areas include two sections of the Nairana National Park in the north of the subcatchment and the Narrien Range National Park in the south-west.
The Nairana National Park in the very north section of the subcatchment also includes several adjacent sections which have more recently been gazetted as protected estate as National Park Recovery. These have not been included as containing HEV waters because they show signs of impacts from previous land use (e.g. erosion). The eastern section of this national park covers the eastern bank of the Mistake Creek before it confluences with the Belyando River. These sections of river are a good example of a large inland river reach with good riparian habitat, including ‘of concern’ fringing riverine habitat (RE 1.3.25/11.3.37/11.3.1) and permanent water hole. Within this eastern part of the park is ‘Dead Horse Waterhole’ which appears to hold surface water on a semi-permanent basis and lies on the edge of ‘endangered’ Acacia harpophylla and/or Casuarina cristata open forest on alluvial plains regional ecosystem (RE 11.3.1) . Adjacent to this section of the Nariana National Park is a series of semi-permanent waterholes on Mistake Creek. However, only the western bank is within national park estate. When the river ceases to flow these water holes are potentially important dry season refuge for aquatic and other biota and are part of a network of similar water bodies in the Belyando-Suttor system.
The Narrien Range National Park, declared in 1998, covers an area of the Narrien Range, a quartz sandstone massif, which divides the Mistake and Upper Belyando subcatchments. Highest peak is Camp Oven Mountain (759m). A spring has been mapped at the head of Cattle Creek flowing from the northern section of this range. This spring lies outside the national park boundary but it is likely that similar springs exist within the national park. This is supported by the name of one creek being Spring Creek. No information is available about the water quality condition but the area is rugged and appears to be in a natural state. Springs in this area would provide a very important source of water in an otherwise dry landscape. Fensham (1995) reported that the Narrien Range contained the most inland dry rainforest patch in this region. A record of the Northern Quoll, being observed in these ranges also exists from 1998. The Narrien National Park also contains stands of the endangered Eucalyptus cambageana woodland (RE 11.4.8). The entire Narrien Range appears to be in a natural state and may be included as a HEV area in future with further investigation.
The Blair Athol State Forest on the northern slopes of the Drummond Range, in the very south-east section of the subcatchment, may also have sections that are “essentially unmodified” but no information on the water quality condition was available. Satellite imagery indicated some level of disturbance within this area. At this stage this area has not been identified as containing HEV waters.
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