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Sault Ste. Marie – Ice-breaking operations were launched in the western Great Lakes, U.S. Coast Guard officials announced Wednesday.

Officials said they have started what they call “Operation Taconite” in Lake Superior and Lake Michigan, as well as northern Lake Huron, Georgian Bay, Green Bay, the Straits of Mackinac and St. Marys River. The effort is in response to expanding ice in commercial ports, according to a news release.

Ice-breaking is done for several reasons, including search and rescue, flood control or to serve vessels or communities in need, the Coast Guard said. Operation Taconite is one of two ice-breaking operations on the Great Lakes.

Officials added some waterways likely will close in the coming weeks. Considerations for closures include the protection of marine environment and safety of island residents, who use natural ice bridges for transportation to and from the mainland.

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