The Department of Natural Resources committed $30,820,000 to rebuild park buildings, improve roads and overhaul water, sewage and electrical systems at eight of the state's 96 parks.

The costliest project involves major reconstruction at Sterling State Park in Monroe, the only state campground adjoining Lake Erie. Plans call for relocating the park entrance and building a new park office and residence. The total cost of Sterling's improvements is an estimated $8.7 million.

Other park projects include:

  • $1,415,000 for Fort Wilkins State Park.

  • $3.9 million for Holland State Park.

  • $3,928,000 for Island Lake Recreation Area.

  • $2,511,000 for Muskegon State Park.

  • $4,610,000 for Tahquamenon Falls State Park.

  • $1,201,000 for Tawas State Park.

  • $4,555,000 for Waterloo Recreation Area.

Michigan campers undoubtedly will enjoy the new amenities. But taxpayers have reason to wonder whether the park system really requires yet another cash infusion. Only eight years ago, voters approved an endowment fund for parks' operations, maintenance, and capital improvements. The fund balance currently exceeds $96 million. Park fees, meanwhile, remain artificially low compared to other forms of recreation, while park use is relatively stagnant. Overnight camp visits declined from a decade-high of 5,378,074 in 1991 to 5,101,131 last year.