Legislation was introduced in the Senate this month and in the House last February seeking coins commemorating the centennial anniversary of the National Park Service.
Established in 1916, the National Park Service or NPS (www.nps.gov) is a bureau of the Department of the Interior tasked with managing and safeguarding more than 400 national parks throughout the United States and its territories.
If a version of the legislation is passed in both the House and Senate and then signed by the President, the United States Mint during calendar year 2016 would produce and sell:
- Up to 100,000 $5 gold coins,
- A maximum of 500,000 silver dollars, and
- Not more than 750,000 clad half-dollars
These commemorative coins would be struck in collector qualities of proof and uncirculated and bear designs emblematic of the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service.
The legislation calls for the Secretary of the Treasury to select the final designs in consultation with the National Park Service, the National Park Foundation and the Commission of Fine Arts. As is standard with all coin and medal designs, they would also be reviewed by the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee. Inscriptions outlined for each denomination, in addition to their face values, are the words LIBERTY, IN GOD WE TRUST, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, E PLURIBUS UNUM and the year 2016.
Sales of the coins would include surcharges in the amount of $35 for each $5 gold coin, $10 for every silver dollar and $5 for each clad half-dollar. Collected funds would go to the National Park Foundation for projects and programs that help preserve and protect resources under the stewardship of the National Park Service and promote public enjoyment and appreciation of those resources. Language in the bill specifically states that the surcharges cannot be used to acquire more land.
Senate and House versions of the legislation are nearly identical, down to the same title of National Park Service 100th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Act. The most recent bill in the Senate, S. 1158, was introduced by Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) on June 13, 2013. It has three cosponsors and has been referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs. The House bill, numbered H.R. 627, was brought forward by Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-MN) on Feb. 13, 2013. It enjoys support from 304 cosponsors and has been referred to the House Committee on Financial Services.
This year’s two bills mark another attempt at commemorating the centennial of the National Park Service. A house bill in the prior 112th Congress, numbered H.R. 5840, had been introduced on May 18, 2012. It garnered the cosponsor support of 65 House members but eventually died in committee.
There have been other commemorative coin programs that have and continue to feature parks in their designs, like the national site and park quarters from the America the Beautiful Quarters® Program and the related five ounce bullion and uncirculated silver coins series, but there has never been a coin specifically to honor the National Park Service.