Proposed Commemorative Coin-set Legislation to Protect Bald Eagle
Citizens and organizations encouraged to write congressional representative to co-sponsor Bald Eagle Coin Act.
WASHINGTON, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, May. 12, 2004 -/E-Wire/– On June 20, 1782, the U.S.A.’s Founding Fathers selected the Bald Eagle as the central image of the United States national emblem at the Second Continental Congress. Since then, this majestic bird has come to represent the spirit of Freedom and Democracy that makes our nation great.
At the request of the not-for profit American Eagle Foundation (AEF) of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, Congressman William L. Jenkins recently introduced special commemorative coin legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives to celebrate the recovery of the Bald Eagle to America’s lands, waterways and skies and raise needed funding for their future monitoring and protection.
“I am pleased to introduce this legislation, since the bald eagle is our national symbol and deserves to be continually recognized and protected,” Congressman Jenkins stated. “The good news is that the eagle may soon be de-listed from the endangered species list. This means that programs to protect and strengthen the bird have been successful. The challenging news is that we must continue our efforts to ensure its recovery and preservation in years to come.”
The proposed “American Bald Eagle Recovery and National Emblem Commemorative Coin Act” (H.R. 4116) recognizes the recovery and success story of the American eagle, but also the great importance of its designation as an “Endangered and Threatened” species under the Endangered Species Act. When passed by Congress, the legislation would authorize the U.S. Mint to create and market a three-coin Gold, Silver and Clad set ($5, $1 and $.50 pieces) in 2008, the 35th Anniversary of the ESA.
“The Bald Eagle has been making a gradual and encouraging comeback in the lower 48 States. Although presently classified as a ‘Threatened Species’ under the Endangered Species Act, our National Bird may soon be ‘delisted’ from ESA protection,” said AEF President Al Cecere. “Then we’ll need additional funding support to keep it flying strong and free for the future”.
The AEF is encouraging citizens and wildlife conservation organizations, and Jenkins is asking his colleagues in the U.S. Congress, to support the “Bald Eagle Commemorative Coin Act” (H.R. 4116). The International Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies, National Wild Turkey Federations and others are supporting the legislation.
“Under ESA provisions, a recovered species must be monitored by federal and state agencies for a period of at least 5 years after being ‘delisted.’ Therefore, the Bald Eagle will require substantial funding to conduct nest monitoring programs, on-going recovery projects, and related public education efforts,” said Cecere.
The coin legislation must obtain the signatures of 290 Co-Sponsors in the House of Representatives before it can pass out of the Committee on Financial Services and go to the floor for an official vote. Officially introduced by Jenkins in April 2004, over 100 House members nationally have already signed on to the Bill. The AEF is also hoping to soon obtain a Sponsor and Co-Sponsors in the Senate.
“This legislation would have the potential of bringing millions of dollars to care for, protect and monitor eagles and their habitats. Many of my colleagues have already asked to join me as a co-sponsor of this bill, as this is a bi-partisan measure that all of us can support,” Jenkins said.
A surcharge from the sale of each coin sold would be earmarked to create an American Eagle Fund endowment managed by the AEF. If the coin set sells out, it has the potential of raising $10,750,000 for eagles. The AEF will be looking for conservation and patriotic minded corporations, philanthropists and foundations to match that amount. Similar minted coin sets have generated millions of dollars in surcharges for other causes.
Once the proposed U.S. Mint coin set has sold out, the annual interest generated from surcharge revenues placed in the American Eagle Fund would be disbursed (in the form of grants) to support on-going state, federal and private eagle care, monitoring and protection programs within the five U.S.F.W.S. Bald Eagle Recovery Regions. At least fifty-percent of such annual grant monies would be earmarked to support eagle programs managed by various State fish and wildlife agencies.
“We’re asking private and state wildlife conservation and civic groups throughout the country to write to their elected officials in the U.S. House of Representatives encouraging them to support H.R. 4116,” said Cecere.
The AEF’s staff and trained Bald Eagle ‘Challenger’ have already made several trips to Washington and Capitol Hill to promote the coin legislation and educate about eagle conservation issues. They were in D.C. on May 11 and 12 to meet with a number of national organizations, such as the American Zoo & Aquarium Association, Environmental Defense Fund, National Congress of American Indians, National Association of Letter Carriers, and various U.S. Senate and House members.
Congressman should contact either Brenda Otterson, Chief of Staff, or Megan Caldwell, Legislative Assistant, in Congressman Jenkins’ office (202-225-6356). House members can call on Congressman Jenkins directly to add their name to the list of Co-Sponsors that have already signed on.
A sample letter that can be used by interested parties in writing to their Congressman can be obtained by visiting the AEF’s www.eagles.org website. The text of the ‘Bald Eagle Commemorative Coin Act’ and current list of Co-Sponsors in the House of Representatives can be viewed by visiting the http://www.thomas.gov/ website and entering HR 4116.
“Working together, we can help keep America’s eagles flying strong and free for future generations to enjoy,” said Cecere.
Photos and B-Roll of Challenger’s visit to U.S. Capitol available from AEF upon request.
American Eagle Foundation
Al Cecere, American Eagle Foundation President at email@example.com