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Collins, Colleagues Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Support Next Generation of Coastal Managers

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Chris Coons (D-DE), Roger Wicker (R-MS), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) introduced legislation to improve the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Coastal Management and Digital Coast Fellowships. The Coastal Fellowships Act of 2021 supports two essential programs that boost critical workforce capacity for coastal zone management programs that coastal states depend on to protect their communities from unique hazards.


“Maine has thousands of miles of coastline as well as diverse ocean and intertidal ecosystems that support the livelihoods of many Maine families and are an integral part of our state’s character,” said Senator Collins. “NOAA’s fellowship programs help to keep communities strong by supporting postgraduate students’ work with states to increase coastal resilience, protect the environment, and promote a strong ocean economy. Reauthorizing these fellowships would help preserve these precious natural resources for current and future generations.”


The Coastal Management Fellowship celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, and the Digital Coast Fellowship will mark its 10th anniversary next year. The Maine Coastal Program within the Department of Marine Resources has benefitted from hosting nine Coastal Management fellows and one Digital Coast fellow since these fellowships were established in 1996 and 2012, respectively. The Coastal Fellowships Act of 2021 would:


  • Codify NOAA’s Coastal Management and Digital Coast Fellowships;


  • Authorize sufficient appropriations to fully support NOAA’s administration of the program;


  • Improve benefits for fellows, including an increased stipend; addition of a locality adjustment to account for cost-of-living differences between states; and sufficient funding for professional development, work-related travel, and relocation expenses


  • Give fellows direct hire authority to facilitate the transition from the fellowship into the federal workforce for fellows interested in joining a federal agency.



Click HERE to read the bill text.



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