Friends of Istokpoga Lake Association, Inc.
P.O. Box 205
Lorida, Florida 33857

FOI History

[This page is under construction and barely started. It will be completed when we have developed the history completely. It will take many months and much work to piece together the events, decisions, and people that brought the Friends of Istokpoga Lake Association to the place where it is today. If you can help with this effort, please send a note to us via email or letter (see our address above)]


The lake association began with a meeting in the home of Bill and Sandy Dwinell in February 1998, when 15 to 20 people gathered to discuss their concerns with what was happening on Lake Istokpoga and how these concerns might be addressed. There were many areas of concern at that time. Most of the concerns could be boiled down to the fact that a number of government agencies were deciding what needed to be done on the lake and there was little input from the people that lived on the lake or used the lake.

The consensus was that only by joining together and taking a common position would we be able to influence the various agencies controlling the actions on the lake. It was decided that we should form an association with the goal of protecting our beautiful lake from any and all actions that might cause harm. 

People were contacted following the meeting and over 100 paid dues of $5.00 for the new organization, "Friends of Istokpoga".


The first meeting, and organization meeting, of our group was held on May 21, 1998 at the Lorida Community Center. Jim Wilkins opened the meeting and introduced Sandy Dwinell who was selected to preside over the meeting. Presentations were made by Mary Carter, Highlands County Lakes Association (HCLA), and Beacham Furse, Fisheries Biologist from Lake Okeechobee-Kissimmee River Investigations, Game and Fish Commission (GFC).

Mary Carter talked about the need for a separate Lake Association to focus on the problems of Lake Istokpoga and how there were more than eighty lakes in Highlands County and that HCLA could not put the emphasis on lake Istokpoga it needed to have. Beacham Furse talked about the need to remove about 2000 acres of tussock from the shoreline of Lake Istokpoga.

Bill Dwinell talked about the formation of the Lake Istokpoga Management Committee (LIMC) and how Friends of Istokpoga needed to be members of it. He also commented on a recent airboat ride with Ken Denson, GFC, where he got an education on the tussock problem on the lake.

Sandy then introduced seven people, Jim Berry, George Cook*, Bill Dwinell, Debbie Galloway, Walter Monroe, Jack Newkirk**, and Jim Wilkins who had volunteered to serve on the board of directors and asked each one to give a short outline of their concerns and interests. It was moved and seconded that the nominations be accepted.

*George Cook later resigned. Debbie Tetor was appointed to complete the term of George and served as Secretary/Treasurer.

** Jack Newkirk resigned and Don Linton was appointed to complete his term as Director.


Our officers are dedicated to upholding the Articles of Incorporation and By-laws of our corporation. The board of directors is elected annually and their term is from March 1 through the end of February the following year. The Directors are elected by a vote of the members at the annual corporate meeting held in February of each year. Following the February Corporate meeting, the new board of directors meet and elect a president, vice-president, secretary and treasurer to serve that year. A list of our current and past directors and officers is available by clicking on here.


Date Description
   February 1998 Formation of Friends of Istokpoga
21 May 1998 First Public Meeting; First Election
July 1998 Published first issue of the Istokpoga Newswire
1998 Became Member of Lake Istokpoga Management Committee
13 August 1998 Incorporation of Friends of Istokpoga Lake Association, Inc.
Circa 1998-9 Drawdown Survey Conducted to determine membership position
Early 1999 Became a member of the Kissimmee Basin Water Supply Planning Committee
January 1999 Bass logo adopted by Board of Directors
4 March 1999 Adoption of By-laws by Membership
October 1999 Associate Memberships for Businesses
Fall 1999 Instrumental in modifying FWC Slot Limit before Implementation to protect big bass in our lake
Fall 1999 Recognized by IRS as a nonprofit corporation under section 501 (c) (3)
1999-2000 Participated in the Gulfstream Pipeline Environmental Advisory Committee
Fall 1999 Got USACE to commit $50,000 for Review of Lake Istokpoga regulation schedule as part of CERP (Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Program).
January 2000 Website Developed by Bill Dwinell
Spring 2000 Aided in stopping water releases from S-68 that could harm bass spawn
9 November 2000 Modification of By-Laws by membership
Fall 2000 Instrumental in getting repairs made to G-85 structure on Istokpoga Canal
8 September 2001 Received award for "Conservation Organization of the Year" by Florida Wildlife Federation
October 2001 Association Logo changed to Bass and Lake Istokpoga (developed by Chris Monroe)
April 2002 Update provided to FOI members on proposed park at Windy Point by Highlands County Parks and Recreation Department
October 2002 FFWCC Istokpoga Bass Study: Lower mercury levels for 2002 than 1989, but still recommends "limited consumption of the bass?
April 2003 High recruitment (young fish surviving to adulthood) produce outstanding catches of both quality and trophy-sized fish.
September 2003 SFWMD confirms Lake Istokpoga is now officially included in the Lake Okeechobee Watershed Project; we expect the lake to benefit.
January 2004 We Sponsor Fishing Line Recycling on Lake Istokpoga
2006 Website Moved and updated
February 2006 Special Membership Option introduced: Pay for 3-yrs and receive a free FOI tee-shirt
May 2006 Replacement of prior Association logo with a new Friends of Istokpoga logo
May 2006 Website "Members" section added and new FOI "Yahoo Message Group" created
October 2006 Revamped FOI website for easier navigation and increased "eye-appeal"
October 2006 Friends of Istokpoga Board to actively monitor spraying activities by all permitted agencies
February 2007 Istokpoga Grid Map, including GPS coordinates & emergency contact #'s provided to members and fish camps
November 2007 FOI Assoc. recognized by Lake Istokpoga Management Committee as a valuable voice and provider of education information
September 2009 Position of Lake Historian filled and creation of a new Newswire section: "Lake Istokpoga Historical Tidbits"

© 1998 -  Friends of Istokpoga Lake Association, Inc. All Rights Reserved