History of the Association


By Mike Hittle
(Taken from the Fall/Winter 2012 Newsletter)

Under the leadership of Paul Gottwald, a retired DNR Area Director, and Maryann and Rod Brown, flowage resort owners, 25 flowage residents gathered on June 8, 1996, to bring into being the Turtle Flambeau Flowage-Trude Lake Property Owners Association, Inc. Those present approved a set of By-Laws for the organization; elected a slate of officers and board members; and set annual dues for members at $15 dollars per year. By July 23 of the same year, the association had a bank account, with a balance of $363.63, and a post office box, #631, in Mercer. The association was officially incorporated by the state in 1997 and received its federal tax exemption (501C4) in 1998.

No single, immediate threat to the flowage prompted the foundation of the association. The state of Wisconsin had only recently completed its purchase of the flowage bottom and shoreline from the Chippewa and Flambeau Improvement Company—thus taking off the table the possibility that the flowage might someday be subject to extensive development. Nonetheless, the time seemed right to bring strong citizen involvement to bear on its long-term future. In the words of Paul Gottwald, the first president of the association, “we wanted to be prepared…to build some camaraderie with stakeholders [property owners] around the flowage…to make sure that nothing bad happened.”

The association moved quickly to build that camaraderie, as well as a sense of shared aspirations, when it scheduled a cookout on Hot Dog Island for late September of 1996. It also sent out a survey to 200 flowage property owners, in an effort to gauge their aspirations and concerns. The returns were few, but their content was telling. Respondents described the flowage as “remote,” “pristine,” “peaceful,’’ and “quiet.” And they spoke as one in their aspiration that the flowage should be “preserved,” “protected,” and “kept as it is.” They also expressed concerns– about declining fish populations, threats to the stability of the flowage, fluctuations in the water levels, and the need to control or limit high-powered boats, personal watercraft, and water skiing. A subsequent survey in 2001, this one with a 75% response rate, reiterated the concern about fish populations and added two new ones: water quality and the threat of exotic, or invasive, species. As it turns out, the aspirations and concerns expressed by the membership in the early years of the association have driven the agenda of the association from its very inception.

The following paragraphs, organized topically, describe some of the projects and actions taken by the association in the sixteen years of its existence.


As of the fall 2012, the Turtle Flambeau Flowage and Trude Lake Property Owners’ Association has a total membership of 185 (174 regular members and 11 special members). The membership represents approximately 180 parcels of property on the flowage. The treasurer’s report shows a balance of $ 12,284, of which $ 2,732.75 is in a fund dedicated to the improvement of fish habitat. Attendance at the last five annual membership meetings has averaged slightly more than 25 people, more than double the attendance at the association’s first five membership meetings.

As important as membership, money, and attendance at meetings may be, however, the association cannot pursue its goals without a good base of volunteers. Their time, energy, and commitment lie behind the accomplishments outlined in this brief history.