The U.S. House of Representatives on April 29 passed the National Park Service 100th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Act (H.R. 627), which if similarly passed by the U.S. Senate and signed by the president would authorize the production of more than 1 million coins honoring the U.S. National Park Service.
The bill received bipartisan support in the House, with 403 yeas and only 13 nays. The corresponding U.S. Senate bill (S. 1158) was read twice on April 30, after the House vote, and then referred to the Senate's Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.
The commemorative gold $5 coins, silver dollars and copper-nickel clad half dollars would be struck with an inscription of the year 2016, which would honor the bureau’s 100th year and would be the only year during which the coins would be issued.
"The 100th anniversary of the National Park Service in 2016 will be an occasion to celebrate a century of American vision and achievement in identifying and preserving our Nation's special places for the benefit of everyone and the culmination of 100 years of accomplishments by the National Park Service's employees, partner, and volunteers," the passed bill reads. "It will also mark the beginning of the organization's second century of service to the American people as environmental leaders and vigilant stewards of the Nation's treasured places and stories."
The bill's sponsor, Rep. Erik Paulsen, R-Minn., said the national parks system is "truly one of our greatest natural resources" and it deserves to be celebrated.
"So passing this bill is just one important step to help us honor our country's very important heritage," Paulsen said, according to the House transcript of the April 29 proceedings.
H.R. 627 provides for the production of 1,350,000 total Proof and Uncirculated coins — 750,000 half dollars; 500,000 dollars (composed of 90 percent silver and 10 percent copper); and 100,000 $5 coins (composed of 90 percent gold and 10 percent alloy).
The coins' designs would be developed with the help of the National Park Service, the National Park Foundation and the Commission of Fine Arts, and the review of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee.
The coins would cost a collector the face value of the coin, plus the cost of designing and issuing the coin, plus a surcharge that would be $35 for the $5 coin, $10 for the $1 coin, and $5 for the half dollar.
The surcharges would directly benefit the National Park Foundation, but money from those surcharges could not be used for land acquisition, the bill stipulates.