The U.S. Coast Guard is asking ice fishermen to remove their shacks from the Kennebec River in anticipation of the Coast Guard’s annual ice-breaking mission to reduce flooding.

A statement issued by a Coast Guard spokesman, Lt. David Bourbeau, said the “Kennebec River Spring Breakout” is typically conducted in late March or early April, but the mild winter and warming trend prompted the Coast Guard’s decision to move up the date.

A date for the ice-breaking mission, which focuses on preventing floods caused by ice jams, has not been set, but it will likely be earlier rather than late in March. The Coast Guard’s largest ice-breaking cutter can operate only on the stretch of river between Bath and Richmond, because of water depths. Three smaller vessels can travel upriver as far as Gardiner.

“As the Coast Guard units prepare for ice-breaking operations on the Kennebec River, the public should remove their ice-fishing shacks as soon and as safely as possible, and should refrain from being on the river during ice-breaking operations,” Bourbeau said.

Bourbeau said the Coast Guard will announce its ice-breaking mission schedule after consulting with the Maine Emergency Management Agency, the U.S. Geological Survey, the National Weather Service, and local emergency management officials.

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