US Army Corps of Engineers
Baltimore District Website

Draft Master Plan Available

The Raystown Lake draft Master Plan is now available and we are seeking comments and feedback from the public until December 7, 2019. This draft Master Plan recommends the provision of enhanced recreational opportunities for the public through various forms of low-impact, passive recreation.  

Raystown Lake Master Plan Revision

Appendix A- Environmental Assessment 

Appendix B- Agency and Public Coordination

Appendix C- Land Allocation and Land Use Classification Maps

Appendix D- Park Maps (High Density Recreation, Future Recreation Area and Trail)

Appendix E- Utility Corridors

Appendix F- Land Inventory

Appendix G- Raystown Lake Boating Carrying Capacity Study

Appendix H- ERDC Report: Shale Barren Mapping and Threatened and Endangered Species Survey for Raystown Lake, PA

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

Want an overview of the plan? Check out this "highlights" document by clicking here.

November 3-4, 2019 Open House Resources

Open House days with twice daily highlight sessions were hosted at the Raystown Lake Visitor's Center on November 3&4.  To view the highlight presentation, please click here.

Download the highlights brochure by clicking here.

Video of a highlight session can be viewed by clicking the play button below.  Closed Captioning is available by clicking the "CC" button.

Raystown Master Plan Revision Overview

Master Plan overview

A master plan is a strategic land use management document that guides the comprehensive management and development of a project’s recreational, natural and cultural resources. 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. Every U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) lake has a master plan that serves as a framework for consistent, responsible decision-making for 15-25 years.

Master plans determine how areas of the lake should and can be used for the next 15- 25 years based off of environmental studies, boating studies, operational requirements and public opinion. These studies and findings ensure that the Master Plan will properly guide decision-making at the lake. 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.

It's important to note that a master plan does not plan or approve changes or improvements to the flood risk management and hydropower functions of the lake. Raystown Lake was built for these missions, so a master plan will not allow for any adjustments to those functions.

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Purpose for revising the Master Plan

While legislation contained in the 2016 Water Infrastructure Improvement for the Nation Act (WIIN), Section 1309, requires the Master Plan for Raystown Lake be updated, the revision is part of a larger, Corps-wide effort to bring master plans up to date across the country. Master plans are designed to provide a framework for decision-making for 15-25 years.  In 25 years a lot can change at a project. Technology improves, recreational needs may change and environmental factors may vary. The last time Raystown Lake’s Master Plan was revised was 1994, which is why we need to go over the plan again to see how the public needs/wants may have changed and how biologically the lake might have changed or remained the same.  

Contents of the Master Plan

The new Master Plan will be shorter and more comprehensive than the 1994 plan. The sections of the Master Plan will include the following chapters:

  1. Introduction: Reviews the purpose and overview of the project and the Master Plan.
  2. Project Setting and Factors Influencing Management and Development: Details natural and cultural resources, hydrology of the lake, visual qualities, economic factors, topography, etc.
  3. Resource Objectives: Details the goals and resource objectives of the lake.
  4. Land and Water Use Classifications: Details land and water allocations and classifications. 
  5. Resource Plan: Outlines land and water classification areas such as operations areas, environmentally sensitive areas, high-density recreation areas, etc.
  6. Special Topics: Covers various topics such as land inventory, Boating Carrying Capacity Study, partnerships, etc.
  7. Agency and Public Coordination: Details how public comments were evaluated and collected.
  8. Summary of Recommendations: Details a summary of the findings and proposed actions of the Master Plan. 
  9. Bibliography: Details any additional sources cited in the Master Plan.
  10. Appendices: Includes the Environmental Assessment, park maps, Boating Carrying Capacity Study, land inventory, etc.

Draft Raystown Lake Master Plan release

Right now, our team is continuing to work hard to finish up the draft Master Plan.  After meticulous USACE review, the draft Master Plan will be ready for public review late fall 2019.  Those looking to stay involved and receive updates for the draft Master Plan should fill out the form below.

Public Involvement

Comments and input from the public are important for the Master Plan Revision process. The Raystown Lake community is a vital asset for the successful completion of the Master Plan Revision. Baltimore District has hosted and will host numerous opportunities for the public to engage with the Master Plan Revision team.

Public meetings: April 25 & 26, 2018 Presentation; "Zoning" Map used for comments

Open House Weekend: August 11 & 12

Open House Days to discuss the draft Master Plan: November 3 & 4

Stakeholder Upates

To receive our stakeholder updates, please enter your information in the fields below. If you have previously submitted comments, feedback or questions regarding the Master Plan or have received past stakeholder updates, you're already a member of the updates list and do not need to submit your information again.



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.



Q: When will I be able to give feedback on the draft plan?

A: There will be an official comment period for the draft Master Plan beginning the day the draft is released to the public.  The exact date will be announced in the fall but the public should expect the draft to be released in late fall.

Q: How will I be able to comment on the draft or ask questions?

A: There will be multiple avenues to comment on and ask questions in regards to the draft master plan. After the draft plan’s release, we will be hosting open house days to discuss the highlights of the plan and give ample time for the community to have discussions and ask questions with our team. Comments and questions can also be submitted and asked at any time through our website at:

Q: If I don’t have access to a computer will I still be able to access the draft Master Plan?

A:  Along with being placed for the public on our Raystown Lake Master Plan website, we will make the draft plan available in libraries near Raystown Lake in physical form for those without computer access. 

Q: I know I won't have time to read the many pages of the draft plan. Will an overview of the findings be given?

A: While the executive summary will give an overview of the findings of the draft Master Plan, we will highlight any significant or key changes for the public during the open house in the fall. This overview will also be available on the project webpage at:

Raystown Lake Master Plan Resources


Latest Stakeholder Update

Contact Us

To submit feedback or questions, please email

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. 

Raystown Lake

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


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