BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Mild weather this winter is allowing crews to get a jump on removing the ice boom from where Lake Erie flows into the Niagara River at Buffalo.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says the New York Power Authority and the Ontario Power Generation decided Monday would be the day when the removal of the ice boom would start.

The 1.7-mile-long boom consists of 22 spans of floating steel pontoons chained together. The boom holds back Lake Erie ice from flowing downriver, where it can jam up hydro-electric power intakes and cause damage to shoreline property.

Crews typically install the boom in December and remove it by April 1.

New York state and Ontario, Canada, share the cost of installing and maintaining the ice boom, as well as its removal and storage each spring.