Raystown Lake Funding

By John Clay

Published 11/18 2013 11:35PM

Updated 11/18 2013 11:56PM

Raystown lake is the largest lake in our state that brings in $28 million dollars of visitor spending each year. Raystown was one of 34 Army Corps of Engineers parks that saw their funding stream shrink this fall. 16 of those other parks have shut down, because they can't survive on what the government is offering. People that make their living near the lake are nervous about that, and trying to keep this recreational oasis from drying up.

Judy Norris started the 7 Points Bait and Grocery 37 years ago with her husband.
The Army Corps of Engineers says visitors spend $28 million dollars a year at stores like this  one, that are within 30 miles of Raystown Lake. She's worried about the funding stream for the Army Corps facilities. The federal government recently changed the rules.

Ron Rabina is worried too. He used to be the president of Friends of Raystown lake.That's a non-profit that works with the Army Corps to keep things running smoothly. And it's a lot of work. Fees from the 653 camping sites bring in about $475,000 a year. That makes it the most profitable Army Corps of Engineers camping area in the country.
For the last two years, that money stayed local, going back into running and maintaining the facilities. Surpluses of $65,000 dollars a year meant they could update electric service to camp sites and build better facilities.

But the federal government made a change this fall, determining that agreement was illegal. So now, Raystown is back to getting what the government sets aside for it. And that means less money. Ron Rabina says, "The Corps will do what they can do, they don't think they can do what we did, due to staff and regulations."
Nick Krupa, the local Army Corps director agrees that the change is dissappointing. They may not have the funds to offer the same services next year.
He says, "So it'll mean things like restrooms aren't cleaned as often, or the camping season doesn't extend as far or as early in spring. And certainly our staff could be affected. We'll have to look at staffing levels."

Judy Norris knows a shorter season would affect tourists but there's no way to know if or when that could happen.
She says, "We never had that uncertainty before down here. We knew we'd open in April, and stay open till late October and that's the way its been for 36 years. It's not the way it was this year."

Congressman Glenn Thompson is currently investigating if anything can be done to improve the economic situation for the Army Corps facilities.
To see the Army Corps of Engineers report on Raystown Lake, click here.

To see how tourism affects different parts of our region, click http://www.visitpa.com/articles/economic-impact-travel-report

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