The United States Mint announced that the nation will honor El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico through its new quarter-dollar coin program. The El Yunque forest's design will be the 11th to be featured on coins released under the United States Mint America the Beautiful Quarters Program, and will be issued in 2012.
Formerly known as the Caribbean National Forest, the El Yunque National Forest is the sole tropical rain forest in the U.S. National Forest System. Despite the forest's relatively small 28,000-acre size, it is significant for its immense biodiversity and popular with visitors for its year-round tropical climate. More than 600,000 visitors from all over the world visit the forest each year to sample the rain-forest's eco-tourism pleasures while developing a greater understanding of its ecological importance by walking the many beautiful trails. It was established as a national site in 1903.
The United States Mint America the Beautiful Quarters Program is a multi-year initiative authorized by Public Law 110-456 -- the America's Beautiful National Parks Quarter Dollar Coin Act of 2008. The Act directs the United States Mint to mint and issue 56 circulating quarter-dollar coins with reverse (tails side) designs emblematic of a national park or other national site in each state, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories -- Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Northern Mariana Islands. The quarters will be issued sequentially each year, in the order in which the featured site was first established as a national park or site. The coins' obverse (heads) will feature a restored version of the familiar 1932 portrait of George Washington, including subtle details and the beauty of the original model.
"These new quarters will honor some of our most revered, treasured and beautiful national sites -- majestic and historic places located throughout the United States and its territories that truly make us 'America the Beautiful,'" United States Mint Director Ed Moy said. "The designs will help reinvigorate interest in our national parks, forests, fish and wildlife refuges, and other national sites, as well as educate the public about their importance to us and our history."