William C. Sterling State Park
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Sterling State Park was officially dedicated the following year and today still protects a small portion of the once-extensive wetlands, including four lagoons and the marshes that surround Sandy Creek Outlet. In 2002, Sterling was closed to undergo the the largest single state park renovation in the history of Michigan. Department of Natural Resources officials felt the $17 million project was necessary because of Sterling's role as a gateway park. Like Warren Dunes near the Indiana border and Porcupine Mountains just east of Wisconsin, Sterling is often the first state park out-of-state visitors stop at.
The heart of the project was building a new 47-acre campground on higher ground along Lake Erie where it overlooks the widest and nicest section of beach in the park. But many other smaller improvements were part of the renovation including upgrading Sterling Marsh Trail. Part of the park’s 6-mile system of paved paths, The 3-mile trail loops around the park’s largest lagoon, passing a tower, observation deck and interpretive area all dedicated to viewing wildlife.
The park’s improvements and the lagoons now make Sterling something of a wild oasis in the middle of heavily urbanized area that includes a nuclear power plant to the north and a coal-burning power plant overshadowing it to the south. The 1,300-acre park offers excellent opportunities for birders during the spring and fall migrations, as the lagoons attract a variety of birds and waterfowl including great blue herons, bluewing teals, mergansers and large numbers of Canada geese along with smaller shorebirds.
Egrets are especially easy to spot here. The large, slender white birds that stand more than 30 inches high begin showing up at the park in late March and can be enjoyed until cold weather drives them south in mid-November. In late spring and early summer, it's possible to spot 30 to 40 egrets at a time.
|Difficulty - Easy|