A few days before the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell traveled to New Jersey to announce approval of federal funding for 45 coastal restoration and research projects.

Jewell announced the funding at the Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge in Atlantic County, which acted as buffer during Sandy and reduced the impact on nearby communities.

Most of the $162 million will be used to restore coastal wetlands, marshes, and beaches, Jewell said.

"There have been years and years of degradation from developments and other impacts that we have brought to our communities that have reduced the ability of out landscapes to prepare for storms," she said. "This is going to repair them to a state where they're going to take care of storms in the future."

Jewel said the money also will fund research projects to examine the rate of sediment buildup and sea level rise.

The data will be used for mapping and modeling to help managers in Jersey towns make decisions about where future development should occur and which areas are risky, she said.