The most recent order is not the first time the Bureau of Reclamation has purchased large quantities of ammunition. Its last requisition was in 2013, according to federal purchasing records. Since 2008, the agency made at least 19 requests for ammunition at offices nationwide.
In a move that’s prompting questions about the stockpiling of weapons by the federal government’s nonmilitary agencies, the Bureau of Reclamation wants to buy 52,000 rounds of ammunition for use in law enforcement at Hoover Dam and Lake Mead.
After learning about the purchase request, Nevada Rep. Mark Amodei vowed to inquire with the bureau about its operations, number of officers carrying firearms and how much ammunition it uses, according Brian Baluta, a spokesman for Amodei.
Department officials declined to provide specific information to the Sun regarding details of the ammunition purchase request. “We want to limit the amount of information any bad guys might have about our protection capabilities,” said Rose Davis, a Bureau of Reclamation spokeswoman.
A review of federal procurement records by the Sun shows that the Bureau of Reclamation, best known for its management of Western waterways and dams, solicited bids in June for 41,600 rounds of hollow-point ammunition along with 10,400 rounds of shotgun ammunition.
The agency declined to say how many armed officers work at Hoover Dam and how many security threats it faces each year, but according to a 2008 review of federal law enforcement, the bureau had 21 officers patrolling Hoover Dam.
The bureau’s Boulder City office oversees the agency’s operations at Hoover Dam and the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, a vacation destination that sees more visitors than Yellowstone National Park every year.
The bureau works in conjunction on Hoover Dam security with the Department of Homeland Security, Metro Police and other law enforcement officials. The bureau’s armed officers are “there for the protection of employees, visitors and the dam,” Davis said.
According to Davis, funds for the ammunition are drawn from revenues generated by utility companies that buy electricity from Hoover Dam, rather than from tax dollars.