New coins commemorating the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service are one step closer to reality. Legislation authorizing the coins strongly passed the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday, April 29, 2014 with 403 votes for them, 13 votes against and 15 no votes.
The bill is entitled the National Park Service 100th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Act and numbered H.R. 627. If it passes in the U.S. Senate and gets signed by the president, the United States Mint in calendar year 2016 would produce and sell up to:
- 100,000 $5 gold coins,
- 500,000 silver dollars and
- 750,000 clad half dollars
These commemorative coins would be struck in collector proof and uncirculated qualities with designs emblematic of the National Park Service’s centennial. Established in 1916, the National Park Service or NPS (www.nps.gov) is a bureau of the Department of the Interior and is tasked with managing and safeguarding more than 400 national parks throughout the United States and its territories.
H.R. 627 was introduced by Rep. Erik Paulsen [R-MN-3] on Feb. 13, 2013 and enjoyed 307 cosponsors.
"Many of my favorite memories are with my family enjoying the beauty of our national parks," said Paulsen in a news statement following the House passage of the bill. "In Minnesota, we’re lucky to have places like Voyageurs National Park in northern Minnesota and the Mississippi River and Recreation Area in the heart of the Twin Cities. We need to ensure the continued preservation and protection of these great natural resources so that our children and grandchildren will have the same opportunity to enjoy our country’s wonderful history and scenery."
Many Americans are familiar with the NPS, having visited national parks around the country and also beginning to see more of the national park quarters in circulation. The U.S. Mint introduced its America the Beautiful Quarters® Program in 2010 which, as directed by Public Law 110-456, commemorates specific national parks and national sites throughout the U.S. and its territories. Twenty-two of the planned 56 have already been issued with the most recent quarter honoring Shenandoah National Park in Virginia.
H.R. 627 would commemorate the NPS, not any specific national location like the quarters. Specifications and inscriptions on the National Park Service coins would be typical of other modern commemoratives, excluding this year’s latest issues which sport curved shapes and honor the 75th or diamond anniversary of the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
H.R. 627, as is also typical of coin legislation, mandates surcharges for sales of each coin. If the coins make a profit, surcharge amounts would include $35 for each $5 gold coin, $10 per silver dollar, and $5 for each clad half-dollar. Funds collected 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."
H.R. 627 does prohibit the use of these funds for land acquisitions.
A similar bill, S.1158, resides in the U.S. Senate and has been referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.
Embedded below is a video of Rep. Paulsen’s floor speech on the National Park Service 100th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Act and why he introduced it.