KNIGHTS FERRY, Calif. (AP) -- Central California water districts are blaming the federal government for the destruction of thousands of salmon eggs in the Stanislaus River this month.

The water districts estimate that nearly 200,000 salmon eggs were destroyed when the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation sharply decreased water flows. That's about 12 percent of the eggs.

The Bureau's Central Valley Project provides water to cities and farms.

The districts say the bureau first released too much water from New Melones Lake near Stockton, prompting salmon to spawn in normally-dry side channels. Then, when it cut releases, the channels dried up and killed the eggs.

Bureau spokesman Pete Lucero says the destruction of the eggs was "unfortunate." But he said the water release was necessary to make space for this year's rainfall.

Fall-run chinook salmon are not an endangered species.

Copyright 2011 The AP.

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