'America the Beautiful' coins
New quarters to feature Grand Canyon
PHOENIX - The Grand Canyon will be one of the first sites featured on “America the Beautiful” quarters to be released next year, the U.S. Mint announced Wednesday.
Joe Galli, spokesman for the Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce, hopes that means more than pocket change for businesses in his community. Nearly 5 million people visit the Grand Canyon each year, and many of them pass through the city.
“Any exposure for national parks is good for Flagstaff, and the Grand Canyon is the jewel of the national park system,” Galli said.
The quarters, which will be released five per year through 2021, will honor national parks and historic sites in all states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories overseas.
Kathleen Andereck, director of Arizona State University’s School of Community Resources and Development, said it’s tough to tell whether the state will cash in because of the Grand Canyon quarters. She noted that the National Park Service has been doing other things to promote parks.
“The whole campaign will certainly increase awareness of national parks and will increase visitation, but it will be hard to know about the incremental impact of the quarters,” she said.
The America the Beautiful National Parks Quarter Dollar Coin Act signed by President George W. Bush late last year called for the U.S. Mint to solicit suggestions from governors or chief executive officers of each state, district or territory.
Gov. Jan Brewer’s office had an easy decision, spokeswoman Kelsey Bullington said.
“The Grand Canyon was the first choice because it is one of the seven natural wonders of the world,” she said. “It would be hard to highlight Arizona’s national parks without it.”
The governor also hopes the quarter will remind Americans and international travelers of Arizona’s many natural attractions, Bullington said.
“We have a great, diverse landscape here, and the Grand Canyon is obviously the ultimate one,” she said.
The quarters will be released in the order the parks and historic sites were established. The first, commemorating Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas, is expected in April, followed by Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, Yosemite National Park in California, Grand Canyon National Park and Mt. Hood National Forest in Oregon.
In all, 56 sites will be featured.
Now that the list of sites has been finalized, the Mint will work with parks to design images that will appear on the backs of coins.
Kathy Kupper, a Washington, D.C.-based National Park Service spokeswoman, said three or four sketches were under consideration for the Grand Canyon coin as of a few weeks ago. They feature the area’s plants and animals, scenery and ways people enjoy the canyon.
“We’re just really excited about the overall program and the recognition of parks, and the increased visibility,” Kupper said. “We know how popular the state quarters have been … and we’re excited about the awareness this will bring to the national parks.”