The third year of the new circulating commemorative quarter series began with the El Yunque National Forest Quarter for Puerto Rico. This was the first coin of the series to feature a site from one of the United States Territories. The scope of the program was written to include the five territories as well as the District of Columbia.
The reverse design of the coin features animals and foliage that are distinctive to the forest. The Coqui tree frog is on a leaf in the right side of the image, while a Puerto Rican parrot apperas behind an epiphtye plant. Additional native flora are incorporated throughout the image. The inscriptions around the outer edge of the coin read “El Yunque”, “Puerto Rico”, “2012”, and “E Pluribus Unum”. The reverse was designed by Gary Whitley and sculpted by Michael Gaudioso.
On the obverse of the coin is the portrait of George Washington designed by John Flanagan for the 1932 Washington Quarter. The inscriptions read “United States of America”, “Liberty”, “In God We Trust”, and “Quarter Dollar”.
The El Yunque Quarter was officially released for circulation on January 23, 2012. On the same date, the US Mint offered circulating quality coins with the “P” and “D” mint marks available in bags and rolls. Later in the year, the Mint also offered circulating quality coins with the “S” mint mark, representing a new type of numismatic product. The coins were also incorporated into various annual sets and America the Beautiful Quarters products.
About El Yunque National Forest
Some think that National parks and forests only exist inside the continental United States, but this certainly is not true. Puerto Rico was a country that was originally controlled by Spain in the days of early exploration to the New World. In 1876, King Alfonso of Spain decreed that the large and lustrous rain forest located on the slopes of the Sierra de Luquillo Mountains in Puerto Rico would be set aside as a natural reserve. This makes the El Yunque National Forest one of the oldest known natural reserves in the Western Hemisphere.
When Puerto Rico became an unincorporated territory of the United States, this natural reserve became one of the only rain forest habitats to come under the jurisdiction of the United States National Forest System. In June of 1935, the general land office decided that the Luquillo Forest Reserve, as it was then known, would become the Caribbean National Forest.
This marvelous area covers almost seventy thousand square miles of rain forest, and is home to over two hundred of the most unique species of plants and trees. Some of the plant and animal life that is found in the National Forest is not found anywhere else in the entire world. In April of 2007, President George W. Bush officially changed the name to the El Yunque National Forest to better reflect the unique heritage of the Puerto Rican people.