US Army Corps of Engineers
Baltimore District

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.  

The draft Raystown Lake Master Plan is expected to be complete and ready for public review in Fall of 2019.  

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 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. 

To access the full Study Initiation Notice, click here. 

Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

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Q. What is being done to contain/reduce lake water traffic?

A. As a result of the earlier Boating Capacity Study at Raystown in 1988, efforts have been made to limit boat access to the lake.  These include limits on additional floating slips and dry storage at marinas and limited or no expansion of car/trailer parking at launching ramps.


Q. What determines the point at which the lake has reached a saturation point in regards to the number of boats, safety, etc.  Is there a maximum number of boats that are safe on the lake?

A. We hope to answer these questions with the 2018 Boating Study.  There are no laws or regulations that set limits on boating density at Corps lakes.  Guidelines for planning purposes have been established at some locations around the country.  However, lakes differ in configuration, depth, patterns of use, the presence/absence of hazards, accident records, and user preferences.  Our decisions will be based on Raystown Lake’s characteristics.


Q. How many boats on average use the lake on a Saturday/Sunday?

A. The 2018 Boating Study is counting boats on the lake during weekend days.  It won’t be attempting to establish an average, but will be looking at approximate maximums on heavy-use summer weekend days.  Once the study report is final, it will be made public.


Q. How is the boat capacity on the lake being computed?

A. The boat capacity will be established using a review of previous studies and recognized methods, taking into account the 2018 boat counts and the lake’s individual characteristics.  The appropriate boating carrying capacity is dependent on site-specific attributes, the lake setting, and users’ preferences.  Lake-specific factors that will be considered include water depth, shoreline configuration, lake setting and context, visitors’ perceptions, number of accidents involving other boats, boat type and speed, and dominant boating activities.  The Water and Land Recreation Opportunity Spectrum (WALROS) method, developed by the U.S. Department of Interior Bureau of Reclamation, will be used to develop an appropriate range of recreational boating capacity at Raystown.


Q. Can the Corps or Fish Commission support the increase in boat traffic, shoreline damage, boating laws, and safety enforcement if a new marina is added at Hawn’s Bridge Area?  And without raising taxes?

A. Land use classifications will not be decided upon until after the final report from the Boating Study is received and considered.  Possible increases in boat traffic and safety will be key factors in any decision to add marinas, floating slips or launching capacity.  The above question, explains how a range of carrying capacity at Raystown will be determined.  The Corps has no role in determining property or other taxes, so such questions should be directed to local authorities.


Q. Is it possible to have more boat trailer parking throughout the lake?  Maybe larger parking spaces also.

A. The configuration, quantity, and location of parking in recreation areas will be considered in revising the master plan.  Whether parking spaces are added at launching ramps will depend on the results of the Boating Study.


Q. Will the buoys at Beer Barrel Bay and at Trough Creek be put back to show boaters where the No-Wake zones are in these areas?

A. Although the designation of no-wake areas of water surface is part of the Master Plan revision, the placement of buoys is addressed in the Operational Management Plan, which sets out criteria and procedures for day-to-day management at the lake.  Beer Barrel Bay and Trough Creek are no longer designated as no-wake zones.


Q. Why are cars allowed to park in Boat Ramp areas?

A. Specific policy and park rules are not part of the Master Plan, but are part of the project’s Operational Management Plan. Project policy does not classify parking spaces for specific use or assign spaces to specific user groups. Instead all spaces are available to the public on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Q. How and when did recreational opportunities become top priority on a project that was sold as flood control?

A. 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. 

Q. Are there going to be geographic erosion studies on Terrace Mountain?

A. 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.

Q. What is the point in restricting access and development on the Eastern side of the lake (Terrace Mountain side)?

A. 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.

Q. One developer has come up with a concept to develop a recreation area on Hawn’s Bridge Peninsula.  If the area is designated for high density recreation, is it accurate to say that the master plan will determine what will happen on that peninsula? 

A. 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.

Q. What will the Corps do to protect the plant species Shale-barren evening primrose and Kate’s Mountain Clover from being invaded and destroyed if Hawn’s Peninsula designation is changed?

A. 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.


Q. Is safety going to be a factor when looking at the development of Hawn’s Peninsula?

A. Yes.  Public safety is a primary factor in decision-making for the Master Plan as well as in operation of the lake’s facilities.


Q. Is there not an area on up from Hawn’s Peninsula that would be better suited?

A. 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.


Q. Are there other places on the east side of the lake that have been considered/earmarked for a resort (other than Hawn’s Peninsula)?

A. 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.  See above question as well.


Q. Will resort development provide a percent of their profit to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers?

A. 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 the 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.


Q. Money is returned to the county (concession leases).  Who gets this money?  What is it used for?

A. These funds (see Q9) 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.


Q. I was involved in the Upper Corners Resort discussion.  It died mostly because we couldn’t obtain a liquor license.  Can we get a liquor license for Hawn’s development?

A. 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.

Q. Classifying Hawn’s Peninsula for development in the 1994 Master Plan was not done in part due to lack of public support.  Will the USACE quantifiably measure the lack of public support in the current revision beyond the feedback from the public meetings?  If so, using what methods and if not, would it not be beneficial to truly know public sentiment given the weight it carries in the decision?

A. The Master Plan Revision Team will be reviewing all comments from the April public meetings, the August open houses, the revision website link, and all letters and postcards received at the Operations Project Manager’s office.  To facilitate discussion and decision-making, an analysis of the comments has both transcribed each comment and grouped them by subject, lake zone, and question to which they were responding. Regulation requires that the Master Plan consider expressed public desires but provides no methodology for assessing public sentiment.



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