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Raystown Master Plan Revision Overview

A Master Plan is the strategic land use management document that guides the comprehensive management and development of all project recreational, natural and cultural resources throughout the life of the water resource development project. The Master Plan includes land use classifications that govern the way land is managed and used to provide good stewardship and outdoor recreation to meet the needs created by the lake itself.  

Work is underway now to revise the Master Plan for Raystown Lake.  While legislation contained in the 2016 Water Infrastructure Improvement for the Nation Act (WIIN), Section 1309, requires the Master Plan for the Raystown Lake be updated, the revision is part of a larger, Corps-wide effort to bring master plans up to date across the country.  The primary goals of the Raystown Lake Master Plan revision are to prescribe an overall land use management plan, resource objectives, and associated design and management concepts for the Raystown Lake Project.  The current Master Plan for Raystown Lake dates back to 1994. 

A complete Master Plan revision is initiated when required based on age or substantial changes to the project. The revised Master Plan will be a project-centered document designed to provide a framework for consistent, responsible decision-making for 15-25 years. The new Master Plan will be shorter and more concise than the 1994 plan.  It's important to note that a Master Plan does not plan or approve changes or improvements to the flood risk management, hydropower, navigation and water supply functions.  

Public Involvement

Raystown Lake Master Plan Revision Public Meetings 

Public meetings took place on: April 25, 2018 and April 26, 2018

To view the presentation from the meetings please click here.  To view the maps presented please click here and here

An Open House occurred at Raystown Lake Aug. 11 and 12 to give the public a better opportunity for submitting their ideas, comments and feedback. 

Stay Informed 

If you'd like to join our mailing list to be notified when updates are available, please email RaystownMPRevision@usace.army.mil with your contact information.  


Environmental Assessment

An environmental assessment (EA) is being prepared in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended, to assess the impact of the Master plan Revision to the human environment.

The draft EA is expected to be publicly released in Fall 2019. The 30 day comment period for this assessment has ended.  

To access the full Study Initiation Notice, click here. 

Questions and Answers

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The Flood Control Act of 1944 (PL78-534) provides authority to the Corps to add recreation as an authorized project purpose.  The Raystown Lake Project was authorized by the Flood Control Act of 1962 (PL 87-874), with the purposes of the project stated to be flood control, recreation, and enhancement of downstream fisheries through maintenance of minimum flow.  A  Preliminary Master Plan for Raystown (Design Memorandum No. 4A, March 1966) indicates the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania wanted Raystown to become a National Recreation Area and that the National Park Service issued a report indicating that it would meet criteria for designation as a National Recreation Area.  It is unclear at this time when and why the National Recreation Area concept for Raystown was first raised and later rejected.  Additional lands were purchased for the purpose of public outdoor recreation.  Development and operation of recreation facilities are performed in such a manner as to not impede flood control functions. 

There are currently no plans to perform erosion studies at Raystown in conjunction with the Master Plan revision.  If the area is leased out, any developer would be required conduct erosion and sedimentation studies in accordance with state law.

According to the 1994 Master Plan, a primary objective of the plan was to provide “a natural background for recreationists on the lake by limiting development and maintaining the pristine condition of the southeast slope of the project.”  Other factors mentioned include a lack of infrastructure, lack of public support for development in this area, and the emphasis of the plan on existing recreation “nodes.”  Recreation nodes are a design concept in which recreation facilities are grouped together in clusters in specific areas to maximize efficiency of access and infrastructure construction.

The revised Master Plan will determine whether or not Hawn’s Peninsula is reclassified for high density recreation, and if so, what kind of recreational development would be envisioned for the area.  The type of development, if any, will be determined by the public’s recreational needs, site capabilities, good stewardship practices, and Corps guidance.  The Master Plan itself will not approve any specific development.

Biological inventories were performed in spring, summer, and fall at Raystown Lake in 2018.  One of the primary goals of the inventories was identification of the boundaries of shale barrens at the lake.  If areas meet the criteria for “Environmentally Sensitive” land use classification, they may be so designated.  The criteria includes areas where specific ecological, scientific, cultural or aesthetic features have been identified.  Typically, limited or no development is allowed on these lands. Environmentally Sensitive Areas may be smaller areas designated within another land use classification. Measures may be taken or required to protect these areas or limit access to them.

Yes.  Public safety is a primary factor in decision-making for the Master Plan as well as in operation of the lake’s facilities.
The Master Plan team will be looking at the entire lake shore in conjunction with drafting the revision.  Site suitability is a major factor in deciding where new recreation facilities might go if they are needed.
In the 1994 Master Plan, there are no other areas designated as Future Recreation or undeveloped High Density Recreation on the east side of the lake.  The Master Plan team will be looking at the entire lake shore in conjunction with drafting the revision.  Site suitability is a major factor in deciding where new recreation facilities might go if they are needed.
Rents are either collected on gross revenue or using fair market value of the land, not by a percentage of profit.  Rents would only be collected on the portion of the gross revenue generated on Corps land and would not be collected on any revenue generated by a resort on adjacent private land. By law, 25% of the funds collected are apportioned to the U.S. Treasury and 75% of the funds are apportioned to the counties where the concessions are located. None of the rent collected is retained by or provided to the Corps.
These funds are disbursed, along with other state and federal funds, to the county government through the state.  33 USC 701c-3 states the funds are for use “as the State legislature may prescribe for the benefit of public schools and public roads of the county, or counties, in which such property is situated, or for defraying any of the expenses of county government in such county or counties.”  Specific questions about their expenditure should be directed to the respective county officials.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers defers to local governments and norms regarding alcohol sales policy.  Liquor licenses in Pennsylvania are determined by township governments. While the Corps would not object to issuance of a liquor license to a resort located on public land at Raystown, only Union and/or Juniata township governments and state/local liquor laws can determine whether a license might be issued.

Raystown Lake Project Overview

Raystown Lake Dam is vital to the protection of downstream communities along the Juniata River and is critical to the comprehensive flood control plan of the Susquehanna River basin. Raystown also has an active natural resource program with a goal to maintain and enhance the quality of existing resources.  Raystown Lake Dam was authorized by the Flood Control Act (1962).  Raystown Lake Dam missions include:  flood control (flood damage reduction), mitigation/augmentation of water quality, hydropower, recreation and fish and wildlife preservation.  The project has prevented approximately $285 million in flood damages and receives in excess of 1.5 million annual recreation visitors.

Current recreation activities include:

  • 594 campsites
  • 10 boat launches
  • 2 full service marinas
  • 68.5 miles of trails
  • 10 picnic shelters
  • Amphitheater
  • Resort complex with cabins, water park, miniature golf, and conference center
  • Approximately 21,000 acres open to hunting and 8,300 surface acres open to fishing

Raystown Lake

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Raystown Lake
6145 Seven Points Road
Hesston, PA 16647


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Contact Us

To submit feedback or questions, please email RaystownMPrevision@usace.army.mil