|The Oak Creek Wildlife Area covers 47,200 acres in Yakima County, about 15 miles northwest of Yakima. It is managed in four units with a checker-board pattern of ownerships between DNR and WDFW and scattered private in-holdings. The first acquisition was in 1943 to provide a home for the growing Yakima elk herd that was conflicting with private landowners, orchard growers and livestock producers.
Oak Creek has steep, rocky slopes, a rolling series of ridges and canyons, and over 90 miles of linear stream waterfront. Perennial streams include Oak Creek, Rattlesnake and Little Rattlesnake Creeks, and the South Fork of Cowiche Creek. These streams flow into the Naches and Tieton rivers, large subbasins in the Upper Yakima River watershed that support endangered salmonids, including bull trout.
Many of the open ridges and south slopes support big sagebrush, bitterbrush, and rabbitbrush; the higher elevations and north slopes support Ponderosa pine, Douglas fir, and grand fir. Bluebunch wheatgrass is the most prevalent native perennial grass. Oregon white oak is found in the riparian zones and adjacent lower canyons of the Tieton River and Oak and Cowiche Creeks. several species of currants. Riparian corridors offer important vertical structure in the open expanses of grassland and shrub-steppe habitats.
Wildlife use is diverse including Rocky Mountain elk, mule deer, California big horn sheep, sage grouse (incidental), forest grouse, turkey, quail, wood duck, and a myriad of small mammals, neo-tropical/upland birds, raptors, reptiles, and amphibians.