By Ian Bush

WASHINGTON, D.C. (CBS) — Protecting the Jersey shore from the next superstorm is one goal of a $100-million grant program announced today by the federal government.

“It’s not enough simply to recover.  It’s really critical that we prepare communities to better withstand these events in the future,” said Sally Jewell, secretary of the US Department of the Interior.  “Natural infrastructure, like coastal marshes, wetlands, shorelines, dunes, and so on, can often provide the best protection.”

So, the money is also being spent inland.  Among the projects funded by the grants is the restoration of several hundred acres of wetlands along the Brandywine River watershed, to help mitigate flooding in Chester County, Pa.

Along the coast, says Jewell, “We really saw the vulnerability of these communities when (Hurricane) Sandy hit.  And in the aftermath, there’s been tremendous leadership by the communities themselves in creatively thinking through how to rebuild, how to recover, and how to reduce their risk.”

Tim Dillingham, with the American Littoral Society, says New Jersey will benefit from $40 million in federal grants and matching funds and donations.   It’s mainly targeted to beach improvements and salt marsh and wetland restoration in Great Egg and Little Egg Harbors; from Avalon to Stone Harbor; and along the Delaware Bay to Fortescue.

There’s also a project in the Pine Barrens, in Burlington and Ocean counties, designed to protect the habitat while improving stream and wetland resiliency.

The Interior Department says the Coastal Resilience Grant Program — funded through a Hurricane Sandy relief bill passed by Congress — will create 600 local jobs, with young people and war veterans given special consideration in hiring.

A list of the projects announced today under the Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resiliency Competitive Grant Program can be found here.

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