President Bush Signs Bald Eagle Coin Act
Bald Eagle Coin Act will help celebrate and protect America’s living symbol of freedom.
WASHINGTON, Dec. 27, 2004 — Just in time for the New Year, the “American Bald Eagle Recovery & National Emblem Commemorative Coin Act” (H.R. 4116) has been signed into law by President George W. Bush to celebrate and further aid the recovery of the American Bald Eagle. During the final hours of the 108th Congress, the House of Representatives and Senate passed the legislation by unanimous consent right after the Intelligence bill was voted on.
The new law authorizes the U.S. Mint to create and market a gold, silver and clad coin set ($5, $1 and $.50 pieces) in 2008 on the occasion of the 35th Anniversary of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). A surcharge from the sale of each coin sold will be earmarked to create a special American Eagle Fund endowment managed by the not-for-profit American Eagle Foundation (www.eagles.org). When the coin set sells out, it could raise $10 million for the eagle protection cause.
“We’re grateful to President Bush and hundreds of elected representatives from across the nation for uniting behind this important effort to celebrate and preserve our country’s living symbol of freedom,” said American Eagle Foundation founder and president Al Cecere. “The amazing groundswell of support this legislation received from caring Republicans and Democrats was a real blessing for our national bird.”
After its “delisting” from ESA protection occurs (either 2005 or 2006), the Bald Eagle will need substantial funding to conduct on-going eagle recovery projects, including nest monitoring programs and related public awareness efforts.
The AEF is looking for conservation and patriotic minded corporations, philanthropists and foundations to match the amount of revenue the coin sales will raise. Millions of dollars from the private sector will be needed to protect the national bird and its habitat.
The eagle preservation organization and its trained Bald Eagle ‘Challenger’ recently visited 100 senate offices in a marathon 7-1/2 day effort to educate representatives about bald eagle concerns and garner support needed to pass the bill. The group is hopeful that one of the coins will feature the image of its nationally known celebrity eagle.
“This special legislation recognizes and celebrates the successful comeback of the American eagle to our lands, waterways and skies, but also its great importance as a distinctive, unifying national symbol,” said Cecere. “The U.S.A.’s national bird still needs our continued vigilance and help to keep it flying strong and free for future generations.”
The American Eagle Foundation (AEF), headquartered at Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, TN, spearheaded the legislation in cooperation with members of the Tennessee Congressional delegation and others. By the end of November, 70 Senators and 300 House members had signed on as co-sponsors.
Congressman William Jenkins (R-TN) introduced the original legislation (H.R. 4116) in the U. S. House of Representatives. Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Mary Landrieu (D-LA) introduced a companion bill (S. 2889) in the U.S Senate. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN), Congressman Harold Ford (D-TN), Congressman Ron Kind (D-WI), Congressman Bart Gordon (D-TN), the Tennessee delegation and others worked diligently behind the scenes to ensure that the legislation passed during the 108th Congress.
“On June 20, 1782, our Founding Fathers selected the Bald Eagle as the central image of the United States national emblem at the Second Continental Congress,” said Cecere. “This majestic bird has come to represent the spirit of Freedom and Democracy that makes our nation great.”