This basin lies entirely within the Boreal Mixedwood Ecoregion. The rainfall is greater and the evaporation less than the southern portion of the province, and the moisture regime is sufficient to support forest growth throughout the basin. The predominant trees are trembling aspen, balsam poplar and white spruce on Gray Luvisolic soils. Numerous pockets of sand were left by the retreat of the Keewatin ice sheet approximately 12,000 years ago. In upland regions, these sandy areas support stands of jack pine. Near water they create beautiful sandy beaches.
The Beaver River starts near the town of Lac La Biche as the outflow from Beaver Lake, a beautiful, clear lake dotted with islands. It is soon joined by the Amisk River, which drains four lakes on the western edge of the basin. Long (near Boyle) and Amisk lakes are two narrow lakes set in dense forest. North Buck Lake is a lovely spot for canoeing with lots of bays and islands, and Skeleton Lake provides an opportunity for lively cottage life. Farther east, the Beaver River meets the Sand River which flows from a northern group of large wilderness lakes including Siebert Lake, renowned for its large northern pike; Wolf Lake, with deep clear water and tiny white beaches; and Pinehurst and Touchwood lakes, both spectacular wilderness lakes prized for fishing.
All of these lakes lie north of the Beaver River. There are also many lakes south of the river along Highways 28 and 28A. The climate in this area is slightly warmer and drier and the soils are more fertile, and so large areas have been cleared for agriculture, mostly grain and forage crops. Muriel and Moose lakes are two large lakes near Bonnyville. Muriel Lake is popular for boating, and the four arms of Moose Lake provide a wide range of habitats and pelicans are often seen feeding. The Mann lakes are among the most productive in the basin and provide good fishing for yellow perch. Garner Lake has fairly clear water and a groomed beach at the provincial park.
The basin is still lightly populated; just over 25,000 people live there. Two-thirds of the population live in the towns of Bonnyville, Grand Centre and Cold Lake or on the Canadian Forces Base at Medley. The major occupations are agriculture, national defence, heavy oil extraction, fishing and trapping.
Tourism is important to the basin and lake-based recreation is the major attraction. In general, the lakes in this region have clear water. Of the 18 lakes that have been assessed, 10 are mesotrophic or oligo-mesotrophic (meaning that algae are rarely a nuisance) and only 3 are highly productive and develop algal blooms in most years. The sandy beaches on many lakes, for example Cold, Moore, Moose and Muriel, attract visitors for beach activities. Water skiing and power boating are popular on the large lakes with extensive cottage development, such as at Skeleton and Moose lakes. Canoeing and fishing are peaceful pastimes on North Buck, Amisk and Upper Mann lakes. Whether visitors come to "Alberta's Lakeland" for wilderness camping, water sports or angling, they will not be disappointed.