There shall be in each river improvement district an association to be known by the name of the district, as..................River Improvement Association. It shall be the object of this association to represent the interests of its members before the department and elsewhere and to serve as a channel of communication between the members thereof and the department. Each public corporation and each owner of land within the district and each lessee of such land shall be a member of and shall have an equal vote in the association. Such association may be formed voluntarily as soon as the department has filed its first description of the boundaries of the district. As soon as practicable after recording the final order creating the district the association, if already formed, shall call a meeting of the members of the association and perfect a permanent organization. If no association has been formed the department shall call a meeting for the purpose of forming such an association and a representative of the department shall preside thereat until a temporary chairman is elected. Such association shall adopt by-laws for the transaction of its business. The association shall choose from among its members a president, secretary and executive committee and such other officers and committees as the by-laws may provide. It shall be the duty of the secretary to keep a list of the members and their addresses and to furnish the department with a list of such members on request. The association may require the payment of annual dues or contributions to the association treasury, the amount of such contribution and the manner of collecting the same to be decided by the association. The annual meeting of the association shall be held during the month of February in each year, at which meeting the officers shall be elected and the association shall determine what further work, if any, it desires during the ensuing year. Immediately after the close of the annual meeting the secretary of the association shall submit to the department a list of names and addresses of the officers for the year and a petition setting forth the desires of the association.