SACO, Maine — U.S. Senator Susan Collins says funding for a group of dredging projects in southern Maine has cleared a key hurdle in the Senate.

Collins, a Republican, says on Thursday the Senate Appropriations Committee has approved more than $7 million for the dredging of York Harbor, Wells Harbor and the Saco River. The measure will now go before the full Senate.

Collins says the dredging projects are important because of the role small ports and harbors play in small, coastal communities. She says the projects are especially important for fishermen who use the waterways.