Benewah County has hired a tugboat operator to break ice on Lake Coeur dAlene to ease the flood threat in the St. Joe River valley.
Two tugs from North Idaho Maritime are expected to start work Thursday near Harrison, about 15 miles south of Coeur d'Alene.
They'll be breaking ice along 30 miles of water to St. Maries, where the St. Maries River empties into the St. Joe. Emergency Management Director Norm Suenkel says that will reduce the danger of ice jams and flooding.
Suenkel expects the state to pay the cost because the county declared a state of emergency after heavy snowfall this month. The north Idaho snowpack below 4,500 feet elevation is 80 percent over normal, and ice was 7 inches thick Wednesday on the St. Joe River at St. Maries.