The Beaver Hills are distinctly different from the surrounding lands in terms of their soils, terrain and climate. These features have indirectly contributed to another obvious difference: the extent and type of natural vegetation present.

The Beaver Hills/Cooking Lake moraine is a “deadice” or stagnant moraine, formed during the retreat of the glaciers about 9000 years ago (Geowest 1997). Glacial advances ground the underlying bedrock into ‘till’, coarse to fine debris that was pushed into ridges and mounds as the glacier moved forward. Later, when the glaciers receded, these features remained deposited on the landscape and formed the terrain we see today.

Soil development is influenced by underlying parent material (in this case, glacial till), drainage and overlying vegetation. The scattered network of sloughs, bogs and small lakes within the Beaver Hills have moderate drainage through small streams (Geowest 1997). Soils in turn determine agricultural potential, which is much lower in the moraine than that of the
adjacent lands. The lack of agricultural suitability is one reason why the Beaver Hills have retained extensive natural woodland habitat, while the adjacent lands have largely been cleared.

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