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In Brief - New Mexico - Aug. 22, 2014

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The Associated Press
 

National parks ban drones

Fort Union National Monument and Pecos National Historical Park have joined other national parks in banning the use of drones and other unmanned aircraft within their boundaries until further notice.
Fort Union Superintendent Charles Strickfaden announced the ban at his site in a news release on Wednesday.
“This is a relatively new use in the national parks,” he said. “We are prohibiting this activity nationwide, and at Fort Union, to protect visitors and the resources, while we study how Unmanned Aerial Vehicles impact traditional national park activities and management.
“We hope that our communities will understand that preserving staff and visitor safety, and providing for a superb park experience are our primary focus.”
Fort Union was the largest frontier military post and supply center of the Southwest.
Karl Cordova, superintendent at Pecos National Historical Park, also announced the ban on drones in a news release. Pecos National Historical Park is located 25 miles southwest of Santa Fe.

More delays expected on mine
SANTA FE — The Santa Fe County Commission may sidestep a decision on a proposed 50-acre basalt mine on La Bajada mesa a little longer.
The Santa Fe New Mexican reports commissioners are scheduled to vote next week an ordinance that would place a 12-month moratorium on developments with countywide impacts. Those developments would include landfills, junkyards, and sand and gravel mining that requires blasting.
Under the ordinance, new or existing development applications, like the one for a basalt mine on La Bajada mesa, would be affected.
Commissioners postponed a final decision last week on an application by Rockology and Buena Vista Estates to create a mining zone on the La Bajada escarpment.
 

Pension fund up $1 billion
SANTA FE — New Mexico’s educational pension program reports that strong investment returns helped the retirement fund grow by more than $1 billion in the past year.
The Educational Retirement Board said the fund had assets of nearly $11.3 billion as of June 30 at the end of the 2014 budget year. That’s up from about $10.1 billion a year ago.
The pension fund earned investment returns of 14.5 percent during the fiscal year, which was above its annual target of 7.75 percent.
During the past 10 years, the fund has averaged an annual net-of-fees return of 7.3 percent and 12.6 percent in the past five years.
The educational pension program covers about 35,000 retirees and 65,000 workers ranging from public school teachers and principals to college faculty.