A face lift of Utah Lake State Park began this month as part of the neighboring Provo Municipal Airport runway extension project, much to the dismay of several high school students and one environmental activist who say it will destroy wildlife refuge.

"We really object. All this is good habitat for birds and it's being swept away," said Adam Walters, president of Provo High School's Environmental Club. He watched disgustedly as tractors cleared and graded land for a new campground on the park's north end. Expansion plans were shift-ed from the south end to make way for the longer landing strip.Walters and his friend, Rob Holmes, said they first noticed the construction last Saturday while participating in the National Audubon Society's annual Christmas bird count. The students say because they found out about the project so late into the game, they doubt they can slow it down or stop it.

"Short of going out and standing in front of a tractor, there's not much I can do," Walters said.

Five club members briefly considered civil disobedience Wed-nes-day afternoon but decided they didn't want to be arrested.

Students intend to voice their displeasure about the $5 million airport project by writing letters to Mayor George Stewart and other state and federal officials.

Construction crews are clearing land in the park for approximately 55 new campsites. Park officials had intended to expand to the south, but plans to lengthen the airport runway forced the new campground north.

The change in the park's original expansion plan came after discussions on how to protect wetlands and keep campers out from under low-flying aircraft. The plan called for lake-front sites to allow campers to keep their boats conveniently close to camp. Moving further north doesn't allow that.

Park Superintendent Larry Mullins said he's not entirely pleased with the outcome, but the park is trying to be a good neighbor to Provo.

"They're not quite the Cadillac sites I was hoping for, but they'll be quality sites," he said. Also, the number of sites was pared from 75 to about 55. There are 72 existing campsites.

Nevertheless, the new campground, which could be open in late spring or early summer, will enhance the park, Mullins said.

Lillian Hayes, Mount Timpanogos Audubon Society, said the campground construction is illegal because it's not accounted for in any wetlands mitigation plan.

According to Creamer and Noble Engineers, the firm designing the project, mitigation and monitoring isn't necessary because the new campground will impact less than two acres of wetlands. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project permit allows no more than two acres of wetland to be filled in the state park. The corps designates nearly all of the new 30-acre campground area as upland.

The entire project's mitigation plan calls for Provo to replace 60 acres of "low-value" wetlands lost at Utah Lake by protecting 73 acres of existing wetlands and 39 upland acres and creating 34 acres of new wetlands south of East Bay Golf Course. About nine of the 146-acre total will be consumed by a parking lot, public accesses and utility easements.