Living in central Pennsylvania brings the best of bucolic life as we are fortunate to have closeknit communities nestled in among thousands of acres of public lands. One of the most popular attractions is Raystown Lake in Huntingdon County, managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Raystown Lake is the largest lake within the state and is popular for boating, fishing, mountain biking, hiking, hunting and so much more given its vast surface area and large tracks of land. Currently, the USACE is in the process of revising its master plan for the property as the managers look toward the next 15 to 25 years.
In the beginning, Raystown Lake was a bittersweet gift from the government as the USACE bought properties, built the dam and flooded the valley. Today the lake is a source of pride as it lives up to its intended purpose of flood control and recreation. Unfortunately, conflicting visions of the future are now at odds as the public wants to maintain the status quo and a wealthy man from Texas intents to develop one of the most remote and undisturbed peninsulas. Rod Roberts, owner of Lancer Resources, bought adjoining land to the federal property during the height of the fracking boom with the intention to drill for natural gas. Now that his original plan is no longer feasible, Roberts has wooed local officials and business groups to push the USACE to allow him to build a marina, campgrounds, restaurants and other attractions.
The area in question, Hawn’s Peninsula, is not easily accessible and it is rare that a person would visit, except for a hunter or hiker. For this reason, a host of animals flourish along the steeps banks and under the thick vegetation such as black bears, beavers, birds of all kinds, snakes and lizards. Anglers boast about the fishing along the shores and sightseers often visit Hawn’s Overlook for a stunning view. Together, concerned citizens created a grassroots effort to make our voices heard by the USACE as we are working to protect the peninsula from development and keep Raystown wild. The USACE says that public sentiment is only one component of their decision-making process and other factors are also important. Still, our coalition, the Coalition to Protect Hawn’s Peninsula, is working to engage the public for support and making a concerted effort to stop the leasing of public land for private profit.
For more information on how to get involved, visit our website, join our Facebook group, contribute to our GoFundMe account. However, to have the biggest impact, we simply ask that you contact the USACE via the website setup to take comments and say you support our public land and do not want Hawn’s Peninsula developed. This is their website: http://www.nab. usace.army.mil/Raystown -Master-Plan-Revision/.
George H. Conrad III is the president of the Coalition to Protect Hawn’s Peninsula.