Bonneville Dam Fish Ladder Denied

Bonneville Dam Fish Ladder Denied

This is a discussion on Bonneville Dam Fish Ladder Denied within the Concealed Carry Issues & Discussions forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; On our family vacation we were passing through the Columbia River Gorge (I-84 east of Portland) and stopped at the Bonneville Dam to see the ...

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Thread: Bonneville Dam Fish Ladder Denied

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    Member Array Ransom's Avatar
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    Bonneville Dam Fish Ladder Denied

    On our family vacation we were passing through the Columbia River Gorge (I-84 east of Portland) and stopped at the Bonneville Dam to see the Fish Ladder. I've been there before--inside the visitor center they have viewing windows where you can watch underwater as fish migrate upstream--very interesting. To access the visitor center you have to drive through the dam security gate. The security guard asked our purpose for visiting and did I have any firearms. I replied that I did and they were unloaded and locked in the car trunk (since my Missouri CCW permit is not honored in Oregon). The guard told me I was not allowed to enter the gate with firearms or even just ammunition. I asked if I could check my weapons at the gate during the visit and they replied they did not have facilities for that. I knew that firearms are prohibited in many (all?) federal buildings, but I had assumed they would be permitted if left in the vehicle. Nope. As I was turning around I saw the guard writing down my license plate number, presumably in case I returned. I saw them looking inside the vehicle before me, so I'm guessing if I came back they might want to look in my trunk.

    If we knew this in advance, we would have left the guns and ammo at our lodge during the visit to the dam, but we'd already checked out and were on our way to our next destination, so we just had to skip the fish ladder.

    They also have a fish hatchery and we did not have to pass through security to go there, so it was still a good stop. They have a giant sturgeon on display there. There's a website about Herman the Sturgeon, so I guess that's him we saw.


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    VIP Member Array livewire's Avatar
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    Over the last few years, starting at 9/11, hydroelectric dams have become Federal "Prohibited Facilities". I don't know what kind of policies are leading to this, but Grand Coulee has quite a bit of protection from what I assume are DHS personnel complete with armed security, unmarked vehicles with gov plates, and military-style checkpoints. Considering how much of the power grid these facilities energize, this isn't really a surprise, but it does make things inconvenient and frustrating.
    There are four boxes to be used in the defense of liberty: soap - ballot - jury - ammo

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    VIP Member Array ccw9mm's Avatar
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    In the case of the Bonneville Power Administration, it was created by the US Congress in 1937 and is a part of the US Dept of Energy. So, fed facility. I'm assuming that not all dams around the country are federal facilities, but I don't know.
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    VIP Member Array livewire's Avatar
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    I think most dams operate under the US Bureau of Reclamation... and I think that puts them in the "federal facility" category. My theory anyway.
    There are four boxes to be used in the defense of liberty: soap - ballot - jury - ammo

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    Member Array Ransom's Avatar
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    Thanks for the replies. Bonneville Dam is operated by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. As I originally posted, I knew it was a federal facility. I was just surprised that I couldn't have a handgun locked in my car trunk. Chalk it up to inexperience.
    Last edited by Ransom; July 16th, 2012 at 05:10 PM.

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    Went to Hoover Dam last year. They had vehicle scanners and mirrors but did not ask for weapons.

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    I went to the Grand Coulee dam last summer. You could have left your firearm in your car as it's just in an un-secured parking area, once you get past the tour waiting room, security is TIGHT. We all went through a security screening, similar to what you would go through at an airport. There were armed guards everywhere and you were shuttled to the dam, passing through a checkpoint then escorted through the dam tour by armed guards. It felt pretty strange. The dam was really cool though.

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    VIP Member Array livewire's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fisher10 View Post
    I went to the Grand Coulee dam last summer. You could have left your firearm in your car as it's just in an un-secured parking area, once you get past the tour waiting room, security is TIGHT. We all went through a security screening, similar to what you would go through at an airport. There were armed guards everywhere and you were shuttled to the dam, passing through a checkpoint then escorted through the dam tour by armed guards. It felt pretty strange. The dam was really cool though.
    You used to be able to drive over the dam, rather than screen vehicles they just closed that road. Now you have to drive through town to get over the river.
    There are four boxes to be used in the defense of liberty: soap - ballot - jury - ammo

    “The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie: deliberate, continued, and dishonest; but the myth: persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic.”
    -- John F. Kennedy

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    The Dalles Dam (45mins east of Bonneville) used to have guided, and self-guided tours through the fish ladder and powerhouse, as well as a small park and picnic area open to all visitors, with the shuttle train running every 15 minutes. That ended after 9/11, though DHS pre-screened, guided tours are now starting back up.

    Still no guns allowed, though.

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    Member Array Ransom's Avatar
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    I wonder what the concern is about small arms. I could understand not wanting anything that could destroy the dam and other critical infrastructure. But what harm could a gun do to the exterior of a dam facility? Seems like anything someone could do with a handgun up close could also be accomplished with a rifle from a distance.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ransom View Post
    I wonder what the concern is about small arms. I could understand not wanting anything that could destroy the dam and other critical infrastructure. But what harm could a gun do to the exterior of a dam facility? Seems like anything someone could do with a handgun up close could also be accomplished with a rifle from a distance.
    Not to the structure itself, but what about the personnel? An armed takeover of a control room could wreak havok on a larger scale. While I think the federal facility ban is asinine in certain instances (the post office, for example), security of a power facility is a legitimate concern, especially power facilities holding back water that would destroy a major population center.

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    VIP Member Array ccw9mm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ransom View Post
    I wonder what the concern is about small arms.
    I'm sure that, at the "right" facility (that's lacking certain hardened features/precautions), someone could overpower the operator staff and make a mess of things. Imagine the control room being accessed and then turned on its ear.
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    Your best weapon is your brain. Don't leave home without it.
    Thoughts: Justifiable self defense (A.O.J.).
    Explain: How does disarming victims reduce the number of victims?
    Reason over Force: The Gun is Civilization (Marko Kloos).
    NRA, SAF, GOA, OFF, ACLDN.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ccw9mm View Post
    I'm sure that, at the "right" facility (that's lacking certain hardened features/precautions), someone could overpower the operator staff and make a mess of things. Imagine the control room being accessed and then turned on its ear.
    You can tell we both live down-river from dams.

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