The Coast Guard is asking the public to start removing ice-fishing shacks from the Kennebec River in preparation for ice-breaking operations.

Coast Guard units in Maine are scheduled to start breaking the river’s ice with boats next week, according to a news release.

“Anyone who still has ice-fishing shacks or gear on the Kennebec River should remove them as soon as possible and should proceed with extreme caution in areas where the Coast Guard will break ice,” said Chief Warrant Officer Bob Albert, the ice operations mission manager for Coast Guard Sector Northern New England.

The Coast Guard will break and flush ice from Merrymeeting Bay to Gardiner to reduce the risk of ice jamming and flooding as inland snow and river ice begins to melt and flow out to sea, according to the Guard.

Three 65-foot Coast Guard vessels will participate in the operation: the cutters Shackle, based in Portland, Tackle, based in Rockland, and Bridle, based in Southwest Harbor.

Guard officials said the annual effort is coordinated with the Maine River Flow Advisory Commission, as well as federal, state, county and local agencies.

Capt. Christopher Roberge, commander of Coast Guard Sector Northern New England, said the ice-breaking operation highlights the approaching spring season.

“Despite decreased ice coverage and thickness this year compared to recent years, there is still a need for our crews to perform this critical and dynamic mission,” Roberge said.

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