Posted on December 9, 2004
WASHINGTON - U.S. Sens. Bill Frist (R-TN) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) along with Reps. Bill Jenkins (R-TN) and Harold Ford, Jr. (D-TN) today announced the passage of the American Bald Eagle Commemorative Coin Act to help honor and protect one of the most widely recognized symbols of freedom. "The American bald eagle is a beautiful and timeless symbol of our country's freedom," said Frist. "The American Eagle Foundation has done a tremendous job to protect this stoic symbol and preserve its living heritage for future generations. One of the Foundation's most notable members, Challenger, has been a frequent and welcome visitor to my office. This famous Tennessean is most often the eagle that we see soaring over national events like the Super Bowl and World Series. I'm grateful that my colleagues have shown their support for this legislation which ensures the continued support for American bald eagles like Challenger and strengthens Tennessee's contribution to preservation efforts." "Since the Second Continental Congress selected the bald eagle as our national emblem in 1782, the image of the bald eagle has embodied two core values for all Americans, freedom and democracy," said Alexander who introduced the bill in the Senate in October. "When Americans see the eagle in the wild or in a picture, they don't just see a bird, they see a national symbol. The bald eagle has had a long, tough fight to get off of the endangered species list, and it's important we do all we can to protect them." "Through the incredible work being done by the American Eagle Foundation and others, the eagle may soon be de-listed from the Endangered Species Act," Jenkins noted. "After seeing that hard work pay off, we have been working to find a way to ensure that bald eagle continues to thrive for generations to come. This bill will help accomplish that goal, and I am grateful for the help of my friends in both the House and Senate to help smooth the passage of the legislation I introduced." "The American Bald Eagle is not only our country's national emblem but an awe inspiring bird that has enjoyed refuge in Tennessee's hills and valleys," Ford said. This legislation will help federal and private conservation groups preserve and extend the bald eagle's habitat throughout the United States. I am proud that my colleagues have supported our efforts to ensure that the flight of the bald eagle will be seen for years to come." The legislation allows the U.S. Mint to create a special commemorative coin set that would be introduced and marketed in 2008. The special coin set will consist of a $5, $1 and 50-cent piece made from gold, silver, and clad. All three will commemorate the success story of the American eagle. The annual interest generated from the American Eagle Fund will be disbursed in the form of competitive grants to support various ongoing private, state and federal eagle care programs as well as monitoring and protection programs located within the five bald eagle recovery regions as established by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. A national Bald Eagle Grant Advisory Team consisting of notable eagle experts representing private, state and federal agencies has been formed by the American Eagle Foundation to establish grant making guidelines, applications and recommendations regarding the distribution of money from the American Eagle Fund. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) joined Alexander in sponsoring the bill in the Senate [S.2889] Jenkins sponsored the bill in the House [HR.4116].