Since the completion of Scott Dam almost 100 years ago, entire ecosystems have developed and become dependent upon Lake Pillsbury to survive and thrive. We must conserve and protect the habitat for nesting bald eagles, tule elk, migratory waterfowl, and other wildlife within the Lake Pillsbury Basin.
Project water that is collected in Lake Pillsbury benefits the habitat for the migration, spawning and rearing of salmonids by providing year-round water releases to meet Endangered Species Act (ESA) requirements. The cold water stream habitat in the Eel River benefits threatened Chinook salmon, Coho salmon, and steelhead, and subsequent releases from Lake Mendocino into the Russian River benefit ESA endangered Coho salmon and threatened Chinook salmon and steelhead.
Controlled-temperature water releases from Lake Pillsbury (required by NOAA), mimic natural flow models for the main stem of the Eel River and this helps sustain high-quality rearing habitat for juvenile salmonids. This water is also used to meet minimum flow requirements in the East Fork of the Russian River and the main stem of the Russian River, benefitting ESA endangered Coho Salmon and threatened Chinook Salmon and Steelhead.
Lake Pillsbury is used for “block” releases to enhance aquatic habitat for upstream and downstream fish migration, as directed by the fishery agencies.
Lake Pillsbury captures seasonal rains and snow melt and without this reservoir, summer flows would be naturally reduced to very low levels and water temperatures would rise creating a lethal environment for juvenile salmonids.