Douglas Creek, which flows in southeasterly through the southern end of the Waterville Plateau in Douglas County, comprises the land in federal ownership in the Douglas Creek canyon and its major tributary, Duffy Creek, along with the surrounding uplands and cliffs. In its lower reaches, the creek flows through a steep canyon flanked by high basalt cliffs. This land is managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management primarily for wildlife habitat and wildlife-oriented recreation. An exclosure fence erected in 1980 has prevented cattle grazing and allowed native vegetation to recover.
Douglas Creek is a major landbird migration corridor for a high diversity of breeding birds, including Golden Eagles, Greater Sage Grouse, and Brewer's Sparrow. Located in dry, intensively farmed landscape, the creek and its riparian zone support an assemblage of birds associated with deciduous riparian habitat. Bird species include a wide variety of songbirds, particularly warblers and sparrows; as well as Lewis's Woodpeckers and Olive-sided Flycatchers. Vagrants recorded here include Black-and-white Warbler, Northern Waterthrush, and American Redstart. Research and monitoring in this IBA, one of eastern Washington's most important songbird migrant traps, began prior to 1980, when the fence was erected to exclude cattle. A MAPS banding station has operated here since 1993.
Riparian vegetation can be damaged by flooding. Douglas Creek drains a large area, and water volumes can be very high when spring rains come before the ground has thawed. Consumption of cottonwoods by a rapidly increasing population of beavers may delay establishment of mature trees. The drier portions of the area are vulnerable to invasion by non-native plants, particularly whitetop, knapweed, and toadflax.