MOSQUITO LAKE STATE PARK Teen, dad clean up causeway

A state park official said the problem returns a few days after canisters have been picked up.
CORTLAND -- As part of a school service project, 16-year-old Ray Fridley decided in late April to clean up litter along the Mosquito Lake causeway.
The Lakeview High School sophomore enlisted his father, Charles, and together they picked up more 300 disposable -- and potentially dangerous -- propane canisters.
The squatty steel containers, about 11 inches high and four inches around, are used mostly in portable propane lanterns and grills.
They are not reusable, though they can be recycled if empty.
The littered canisters are a big problem at the lake, especially along the causeway.
And the summer recreation season isn't even in full swing yet.
"You can clean it up one day, but go two or three days later and you find another 15," said Jeff Orth, assistant manager at Mosquito Lake State Park.
Other area lakes: Rangers at other lakes in the area -- such as Berlin, Lake Milton and Pymatuning -- report no such problems.
Orth said it may be because of the number of visitors Mosquito Lake has -- almost 2 million annually, but Pymatuning State Park claims about the same number.
Though the canisters do not affect wildlife any more than other litter, their danger lies in their flammability.
"I can almost understand people leaving a plastic bottle or a broken beer bottle lying around," Charles Fridley said. "But this kind of combustible unit is like a hand grenade."
Ray added that people don't always use all the propane in the canisters.
"If little kids throw them against the rocks, they will blow up," he said, adding wryly, "I guess it's too much of a hassle for people to throw them into a big old trash container that's sitting right there."
Earlier cleanups: This was not the first time the Fridleys have picked up litter along the causeway.
"When I was younger, my dad and I always used to go fishing there," Ray said. "My dad would bring two five-gallon buckets and we'd clear out our spot before we started fishing."
The Fridleys threw dropped the canisters into trash bins around the park. Charles Fridley has sent the pictures they took of the pile they collected, along with a note explaining them, to elected officials in the state.
"I'm trying to reach out and make people aware of this problem," he said.
He hopes companies which manufacture the units, would consider putting a return deposit on the canisters -- even if it's only 50 cents.
"If people were offered that extra money, Ray said, "then we wouldn't have this problem."
Jim Reid, director of public relations for the Coleman Co., a major manufacturer of outdoor equipment, said the company is looking at ways to reduce waste from the cylinders, though "nothing is in place at this time."

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