Alex Reeves, a spokesman for the Royal Canadian Mint, defended the design, The Ottawa Citizen reported. He said the national parks play a key role in preserving endangered species and that's what the coin tries to demonstrate.
The coin will be available for $55.95, considerably more than its face value. The design includes a whooping crane and Kentucky coffee tree, both found in national parks, and the southern maidenhair fern and western prairie fringe orchid.
The fern, common in the southeastern United States, grows in only one place in Canada, at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort in British Columbia, where warm runoff creates the conditions it requires. The orchid is found in a few boggy spots in Manitoba, none of them in national parks.
Dan Brunton, a naturalist whose field work led to the fern's declaration as an endangered species, said celebrating species not found in national parks "seems a weird way to promote the importance of national parks, or to provide public confidence in their grasp of the science that is critical to their successful management and planning of the parks system and its dependent biodiversity."