Army Corps releases draft Raystown Lake Master Plan for public comment

Published Oct. 23, 2019

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has released the draft Raystown Lake Master Plan and is seeking comments and feedback from the public until December 7, 2019.

“This draft plan is an accumulation of a tremendous amount of hard work by the USACE team, our partners, stakeholders and members of the public,” said U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District Commander, Col. John Litz. “This draft Master Plan will guide the future of Raystown Lake based on the findings of the biological inventories, the boating study, and the public feedback we received.”

Overall, this draft Master Plan recommends the provision of enhanced recreational opportunities for the public through various forms of low-impact, passive recreation.

The draft Master Plan, draft Environmental Assessment, previous master plans and additional information can be found on the project website:

The draft Plan can also be found in physical form in the following community libraries:

Huntingdon Public Library, 330 Penn Street, Huntingdon, PA 16652

Saxton Community Library, 315 Front Street, Saxton, PA 16678

Some examples of specific recommended future actions include: expanded biking, fishing, and trail opportunities within existing recreation areas; the modernization of many current facilities to incorporate universal access and sustainability initiatives; and the consideration of future recreation areas focused on trail, fishing, and non-motorized boating opportunities.

Three significant efforts were initiated in order to obtain the necessary information to properly revise the 1994 plan: a new Boating Carrying Capacity Study, biological inventories, and public input.

The boating carrying capacity study was performed through the USACE Institute for Water Resources, under a contract with CDM Federal Programs Corporation. The study utilized a methodology developed by the Bureau of Reclamation known as the Water and Land Recreation Opportunity Spectrum (WALROS). Upon completion, all study results indicate that the boating carrying capacity at Raystown Lake has been reached and exceeded.

A series of biological inventories were conducted to support the analysis of resource objectives and land use classifications. These studies determined the presence of sensitive habitats, existence of special status species populations occurring on project lands, as well as determined if significant changes in existing populations have occurred. This effort was conducted by USACE’s Engineering Research and Development Center (ERDC), Environmental Laboratory.

A critical component to the revision of the MP was the involvement of the public and stakeholders to ensure that future management actions are both environmentally sustainable and responsive to public outdoor recreation needs.  During the initial public comment period, the Corps received nearly 1,000 comments.

Analysis of the comments revealed that over half of all comments received were focused on the area of Hawn’s Bridge. Of those who commented on the Hawn’s Bridge area, 3 out of every 4 comments did not support a change to a high density recreation land classification.  Analysis of the biological inventories and Boating Carrying Capacity Study also did not support a change to a high density recreation land classification. 

The final revised Master Plan will provide a framework for consistent, responsible decision-making at Raystown Lake for the next 15 to 25 years.  It is important to note that a master plan does not appropriate money to any improvements or developments discussed in a final master plan, but effectively portrays where these projects could be authorized if funding or a strategic partnership were to become available for implementation.

The Corps will host Open House sessions Nov. 3 and 4 at Raystown Lake to discuss the draft plan with the public and answer questions. Further details regarding the open house will be released within the next week.

About Raystown Lake

Raystown Lake has prevented more than $295 million of flood damages since its completion in 1973. Raystown was authorized by the Flood Control Act of 1962, and was constructed and is managed by USACE for the purposes of flood risk management, hydropower, recreation, and fish and wildlife management.

Located on the Raystown Branch about 5.5 miles upstream from its confluence with the Juniata River, Raystown is the largest lake located entirely in Pennsylvania. The lake is 8,300 surface acres of clear water surrounded by 21,000 acres of forested mountain slopes. 

USACE operates and maintains six recreation areas at 12 public access areas at Raystown Lake.  Facilities include beaches, boat launches, campgrounds and hiking and biking trails. Four concessions currently exist at the project: Lake Raystown Resort, Seven Point Marina, Branch Campground, and The Lighthouse.

Becca Nappi

Release no. 19-026