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Thursday, 21 January 2016

250) Centennial Celebrations of the U.S. National Park Service in 2016: Commemorative Gold, Silver and Clad Coins being issued by the US Mint in 2016:

250) Centennial Celebrations of the U.S. National Park Service in 2016: Commemorative Gold, Silver and Clad Coins being issued by the US Mint in 2016:

The Historical evolution of the National Park Service (NPS) & its Responsibilities:

On 25.08.1916, legislation was passed by the US Congress creating the National Park Service (NPS) through the National Park Service Organic Act. The NPS is an Agency of the US Federal Government, which manages all US National Parks, National Monuments and other conservation and historical properties of the USA. The NPS is responsible for preserving the ecological and historical integrity of these places and to make them available and accessible for public recreation and holidaying. Prior to 25.08.1916, National Parks and Monuments were managed under the overall supervision of the Department of the Interior.

The task of the NPS is enormous spread over 409 Units (including 59 National Parks, 80 National Monuments – 29 National Monuments are administered by 5 other Federal Agencies –  and other properties like – 19 National Preserves, 90 National Historic sites,  18 National recreational areas, 10 National Seashores, 4 National Lakeshores, 5 National Rivers,  National Parkways, 10 National Wild and Scenic Rivers, National Trail systems, the National Mall and National Capital Parks, Wilderness areas, Maritime Protected Areas etc.).

 The Mission of the National Park Service (NPS):

The National Park Service (NPS) preserves unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the National Park system for the enjoyment, education and inspiration of this and future generations. The Park Service cooperates with partners to extend the benefits of natural and cultural resource conservation and outdoor recreation throughout the USA and the World.

The Official Emblem of the National Park Service (since 1951):
          An image of the Logo of the National Park Service

The National Park Service (NPS) has adopted the “Arrowhead” as their official emblem since 1951.

The components of the Arrowhead have been inspired by key attributes of the National Park System:

- The sequoia tree and bison represent vegetation and wildlife

- The mountains and water represent scenic and recreational values

- The Arrowhead itself represents historical and archaeological values.

The focus of the National Park Service:

Since 1916, the National Park service has been managing the National Parks of the USA, with the active assistance of park partners. The NPS has engages 24000 employees and 225,000 volunteers who work for around 6.5 million hours every year.

Many indigenous tribes, local governments, non-profit organisations, businesses and individual citizens have drawn upon the resources of the National Park Service for revitalising their communities and preserving local history, heritage and traditions. Necessary funds are provided to local communities to preserve Natural and Cultural resources. Among the programmes supported are the Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Programmes (RTCAP) that promote community links to parks, natural resource conservation and outdoor recreation.

The NPS focuses on creating recreational facilities in harmony with natural resources for families to draw upon for having fun holidays and learn about their country’s natural history.

The Decade long preparations/Build up for the Centennial in August 2016:

The Centennial celebrations were envisioned a decade earlier, in August 2006 in a conclave held at the Devil’s Tower (the first National Monument to be declared as such),  when the National Park Centennial initiative was launched to prepare National Parks for another century of conservation, preservation and enjoyment. Since then, the NPS has gathered information to prepare a database from several citizens, park partners, experts and stake-holders on what they envisioned for a second century of National Parks.

Several nation-wide listening sessions got the NPS more than 6000 comments which have helped preparation of five centennial goals which went into a report titled “The Future of America’s National Parks”.

Every NPS staff member was encouraged to read this report and take leads for local centennial strategies to describe their vision and desired accomplishments by 2016.

Kick-starting the NPS Centennial Celebrations in 2016:

In keeping with this initiative the NPS has kick-started the decade long preparations for the Centennial celebrations and begun with an online programme/movement titled “Find your Park” to inspire all the people to connect with and enjoy as well as support America’s National Parks. I found the website quite useful, informative and educational.

For the Centennial celebrations, the National Park service and National Foundation are collaborating with their partners and volunteers cross-country to encourage people everywhere to explore, learn, be inspired or just have fun, as well as, understanding how the National Park Service’s community-based recreation, conservation and historic preservation programmes positively impact their own communities.

Some interesting points:

About National Parks:

-      Yellowstone National Park was the first National Park in America to be established – in 1872. The latest one is Pinnacles National Park established in 2013. The first National monument to be declared as such was the Devil’s Tower which is a 264 metre column of volcanic rock near Sundance, Wyoming

-      The largest National Park is Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve in Alaska covering over 8.3 million acres which is an area larger than each of the nine smallest US States, while the smallest National Park property is Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial in Pennsylvania

-      Around 300 million people visit America’s National Parks every year.

-      The most visited National Park is the Golden Gate Recreation area in San Francisco. The least visited National Park is the Arctic Circle based Kobuk Valley National Park, because it is accessible only by walking, dogsled or snowmobile

Evolutionary & Historical:

-      At Voyageurs National Park in Minnesota, there are rocks which are half as old as Planet Earth which tourists can see and touch

-      More than 1500 embedded fossils from the Jurassic Era are found in the Dinosaur National Monument that crosses the Colorado-Utah border

-      15000 historic and pre-historic petroglyphs – Native American and Hispanic images carved on rock – are spread over 17 miles near Albuquerque at Petroglyph National Monument in New Mexico

-      Yosemite National Park boasts of some Giant sequoias which are over 2,000 years old, while the Great Basin National park has some bristlecone pines which are still older from around the time when the Pharaoh Tutankhamen ruled Egypt.

-      400 million years of mammalian evolution is preserved at the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument in Oregon

-      Most of the Petrified Forest National Park’s petrified wood comes from tall conifers which grew over 200 million years ago along the waterways in Arizona

-      The Olympic National Park showcases 15 animals and 8 plant species (like the Olympic marmot and the crescent trout, owing to this area’s Ice Age isolation, which are found nowhere else on the Globe.

-      The Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota contains a mystifying labyrinth of tunnels,  of which only 132 miles have been explored so far

-      The longest Cave system in the World is in the Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky and around 3,454 miles of which  has been mapped

-      The Russell Cave Monument in Alaska has a continuous record of human habitation since 7000 BC

-      The 10,000 geothermal features in Yellowstone National Park represent almost half of such features anywhere. Nevertheless, the Park shelters around 8500 elks, 2000 bison and is home to cutthroat trout. Interestingly, dirty linen placed in the geothermal craters comes out clean when the geyser “spits” them back up, except that there is a chance of some woollens being ripped to shreds

-      There is a 5.5 metre long pterosaur skeleton in Big Bend National Park, Texas which represents the largest known flying creature

-      There are 14 active volcanoes in Kalmai National Par in Alaska. Nevertheless, Alaska has around 40,000 grizzly bears

-      Glacier National Park covered some 150 glaciers of which only about 25 remain. An indication of what the global warming is bringing on today

-      Rocky Mountain National Park is dotted with over 150 lakes and 450 miles of streams

-      Great Basin National Park actually comprises around 90 basins or valleys and its rivers all flow inland

-      Bryce Canyon National Park sprouts skinny, totem-shaped hoodoo rock formations, some as tall as ten-storey buildings

-      There are two “Dark-Sky” Parks – Big Bend, Texas and Natural Bridges, Utah. Here one can see far-away galaxies leagues away from the orange glow of electric light

-      The Everglades is the only sub-tropical preserve on the North American Continent which has one of the largest stands of pine rock-land in the World

-      Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve has the tallest dunes in North America, which rise up to 750 feet.

-      An active volcano, Mount Rainier is also the most glaciated peak in the contiguous USA

Trails & Drives:

-      The Appalachian National Scenic Trail runs for nearly 2,200 miles from Georgia to Maine and attracts nearly four million hikers and bicycle riders annually

-      American National Parks have around 18,000 miles of walkable trails

-      The Blue Ridge Parkway is a 469 mile long asphalt track which connects the Great Smoky Mountains (USA’s most visited National Park) and Shenandoah (one of the least visited National Parks)

Some other interesting points/features:

-      Puget Sound which is a part of the National Historical Park in Washington State preserves the traditions of the earliest American  pioneers

-      National Historical Park San Juan Island is one of the 1st Native prairies in the Region.

-      The Saguaros cactus of Saguaro National Park, Arizona can live for around 150 years

-      The 1790 eruption in Haleakala National Park on Maui left an unearthly landscape perfect for astronauts training for the first moon landing

-      The six million acre Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska has North America’s highest mountain – Mount Kinley which is around 6000 metres tall

-      The World’s most massive Doric column is located at Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial in Ohio

-      The second and third largest Natural Bridges in the World are located in Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah

-      In Sitka National Park in Alaska, the 2-mile shore trail is lined with replicas of totem poles brought here in 1905

Commemorative Coins:

The US Mint is issuing Proof and Uncirculated versions of three distinct issues to commemorate the Centenary of the U.S. National Park Service which will be as follows:

The coins will be in the denominations of a $5 (five dollar) for the gold coin, one dollar for the silver piece and a clad half-dollar coin.

The Gold Coins ($5):

The above are Obverse and Reverse images of the $5 Gold Uncirculated 2016 National Park Service (NPS) Coin

The above are Obverse and Reverse images of the $5 Gold Proof 2016 National Park Service (NPS) Coin

The Obverses of the above two gold coins depict portraits of John Muir and Theodore Roosevelt (both facing left) together with Yosemite National Park’s Half Dome in the background. Inscriptions on this face of the coin read “LIBERTY” (on the upper periphery) and “IN GOD WE TRUST” on the lower periphery. Below the portraits of Muir and Roosevelt is mentioned the year of issue “2016”.

The Reverses of the above two gold coins bear the NPS logo in the centre. Inscriptions on this face along the outer periphery clockwise from the top are “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” and “E.PLURIBUS UNUM” (meaning “One out of many”). The denomination of the coin $5 and the issuing mint “W” (West Point) Mint are also mentioned.

The designs of both faces has been created and sculpted by Don Everhart whose initials “DE” appear below Roosevelt’s neckline.

The Silver Coins ($1):

 The above are Obverse and Reverse images of the $1 Silver Uncirculated 2016 National Park Service (NPS) Coin issued by the Philadelphia Mint represented by the Philadelphia Mint Mark "P".

The above are Obverse and Reverse images of the $1 Silver Proof 2016 National Park Service (NPS) Coin issued by the Philadelphia Mint represented by the Philadelphia Mint Mark "P".
The Obverses of the above two silver coins depict “Old Faithful Geyser” located in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. In the foreground is a solitary bison. Both the Old Faithful Geyser and the Bisons of Yellowstone National Park are icons in themselves and are popular the World over. The inscription on the top periphery is “LIBERTY” and on the bottom periphery is “NATIONAL PARK SERVICE CENTENNIAL”. Towards the centre left is the motto “IN GOD WE TRUST” and towards the centre right are the Centennial years “1916 – 2016”.

The Reverses of the above two silver coins depict the National Park Service (NPS) logo placed in the foreground, with a “Folklorico” dancer in the background. The Inscriptions on the upper periphery read “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” and “E.PLURIBUS UNUM”. On the dancer’s sash is the inscription “HERITAGE, CULTURE, PRIDE”.

The Obverse design has been created and sculpted by Joseph Menna whose initials “JM” appear on the Obverse face just below the field, while the Reverse face has been designed by Chris Costello and sculpted by Jim Licaretz. Their initials “CC” and “JL” appear on the dancer’s dress towards the lower portion.

Old Faithful Geyser and a Bison have also featured together in America the Beautiful Quarters Programme in the year     . An image of the Quarter depicting the two icons in my collection is given below:

An image of the America the Beautiful Quarters coin depicting Old Faithful and the Bison issued in 2010

The Clad Coins ($½): 

The above are Obverse and Reverse images of the Clad Uncirculated Half Dollar 2016 National Park Service (NPS) Coin. The Mint Mark of the Denver Mint ("D") is seen to the right of the Arrowhead

The above are Obverse and Reverse images of the Clad Proof Half Dollar 2016 National Park Service (NPS) Coin

The Obverses of the above two clad half dollar coins depict a hiker exploring the wilderness and a child peeking through ferns at a small frog. The inscriptions on this face are “NATIONAL PARK SERVICE” (across a band towards the center). In the lower half of this face are the Centennial years “1996 – 2016)”, “IN GOD WE TRUST” and “LIBERTY”.

The Reverses of the above two clad half dollar

The Obverse design has been made by Barbara Fox and sculpted by Michael Gaudioso. Their initials “BF” and “MG” appear on the obverse face to the left and right of the ferns.

The Reverses of the above two clad half dollar coins depict the NPS logo, with the inscriptions “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” and “E. PLURIBUS UNUM”  (meaning “One out of many”) on the upper periphery and “STEWARDSHIP, HALF DOLLAR, RECREATION” on the lower Periphery.

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