Coast Guard breaking out Neebish Island Ice Bridges

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – The Ninth Coast Guard District will conduct an emergency break-out with one of its eight icebreakers along the ice bridges on the Lower West Neebish Channel at first light Thursday, March 19.

Local officials and the Eastern Upper Peninsula Transportation Authority have requested Coast Guard assistance after determining the ice has deteriorated and is no longer safe. All ice breaking will be conducted south of the Neebish Island Ferry Crossing and every effort will be made to leave the upper ice bridge undisturbed until local officials request its break out.

All Terrain Vehicle ATV operators, snowmobilers, and other recreational users of the ice should avoid any proximity to the shipping channels, plan their activity carefully, and use caution near the ice. Additionally, all ice fishermen should remove their ice shanties from areas close to the shipping channels.

Operation Taconite is the Coast Guard’s largest domestic icebreaking operation, encompassing Lake Superior, St. Marys River, and the Straits of Mackinac. As a result of the operation, the Captain of the Port may close or open channels as ice conditions require.

Due consideration is given to the protection of the marine environment, waterway improvements, aids to navigation, the need for cross channel traffic e.g. ferries, the availability of icebreakers, and the safety of the island residents who use naturally formed ice bridges for transportation to and from the mainland.

The Coast Guard recommends to those individuals who recreate on ice to plan their activity carefully, use caution on the ice, and stay away from shipping channels. Recreational users and island residents should stay tuned to local media resources for the status of channel closures.

Further inquiries can be made by phone to Sault Vessel Traffic Service at 906 635-3232.

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