By Mike Baker
Drag Lake resident Glen Bowker is hoping to bring people together and have a good time on July 31, all in the name of preserving the place he calls his home away from home.
The 51-year-old has cottaged in the Highlands for much of his life. He recently purchased a property on Drag Lake, beside the place he regularly frequented with his parents. Drag Lake has long been one of his favourite spots on earth, however over the past three years he’s noticed something that has prevented him from enjoying his property as much as he would like.
Eurasian watermilfoil is an invasive aquatic plant that grows under the water surface, and has been known to completely take over bodies of water it sets root in. The plants can be quite dense, and , when fully grown, make it difficult for people to navigate a boat around, and make a lake extremely unappealing for swimming.
Bowker says he first noticed Eurasian watermilfoil on Drag Lake in 2018.
“It really is a cancer to water systems,” Bowker said. “It’s such a dangerous plant, because it spreads like wildfire. If you try to pull out the plant, or cut it in half, you basically get two or three plants instead of one. It just multiplies.”
He believes the invasive species was introduced to Drag Lake by way of a fishing boat, which had encountered Eurasian watermilfoil in another lake or river.
And so, in an attempt to control the pieces of Eurasian watermilfoil that have already taken root in Drag Lake, Bowker has found an organization that can treat the plants and ensure they aren’t quite so visible and that they don’t spread.
“There are agencies that come out with divers and they’ll go beneath the surface and cover up the Eurasian watermilfoil bed with a matting, I believe it’s a bamboo matting,” Bowker said. “There’s no way to actually get rid of this thing, once its roots are in the ground they’re there to stay. But if we cover it up, it lowers the risk of people interacting with the plant and helping to spread it.”
This treatment costs around $10,000 per day.
With that in mind, Bowker got together with some of his friends to organize a fundraising event. They’re calling it Play the Bay.
The idea, Bowker says, is for his band to take a pontoon boat out onto the water on July 31 and travel to different spots across the lake and play sets for families, who can watch on from their property.
“We are planning to leave east bay at around 10 a.m. and then go around Drag Lake, across into Spruce Lake and then come back to Drag Lake in a clockwise fashion,” Bowker said. “I imagine we’ll be out for most of the day, and we’re really looking forward to it.”
His five-piece band specializes in classic rock, and boasts a vocalist, lead guitarist, rhythym guitar, percussion and bass. They cover songs from bands such as The Tragically Hip, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Van Morrison, April Wine and Creedence Clearwater Revival.
“We have a wide range of sounds and music that should appeal to people of all ages – mostly from the 60s, 70s and 80s, but it’s just good music,” Bowker said.
He is charging individuals $100 per song, but is encouraging neighbours to band together to create their own personal set list that can be played at a central bay.
As of press time, Play the Bay has already raised $7,800.
Anything raised above and beyond the $10,000 needed to carry out the treatments on Drag Lake this year will be carried over to help cover additional treatments in the future.
“Unfortunately, Eurasian watermilfoil is here to stay. Unfortunately, we can’t really use the word eradicate anymore, because we know that no matter what we do we’re not going to be able to completely get rid of it,” Bowker said. “Even if we were to manage to cover it all up and stop it from spreading, all it really takes is for another boat from another lake to pop in and then all of a sudden we’ve got more of it. So, the reality is, we’re not trying to eradicate. We’re trying to identify and control.”
Anyone interested in having Bowker and his band play a set on July 31 should contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. He will be taking requests up until July 29, at which point he will work on figuring out a route for the day.