Re: “Orca Tahlequah is a mother again” [Sept. 5, Northwest]:

After a summer featuring a global pandemic, capped off by a smoke-filled Labor Day thanks to the nearby wildfires, the good news that the mother orca Tahlequah successfully gave birth to a new orca calf was just what I needed to put a smile on my face this week. This new orca calf, J57 is a cause for celebration — and also a reason for us to do more to ensure that this calf and the rest of the southern residents can live long, healthy lives.

The southern-resident orcas are starving. Dams along the Snake and Columbia rivers prevent Chinook salmon, their primary food source, from reaching their feeding grounds in the Puget Sound and the greater Salish region.

A federal-agency plan to protect our orcas, released last month, recommended “spilling” salmon over the dams as their preferred recommendation. This is a temporary solution at best and will fail to restore the orcas’ primary food source. What would be an even bigger cause for celebration than a newborn calf? A strong plan from our region’s and nation’s leaders that actually has the potential to save our salmon and orcas from possible extinction.

Pam Clough, Steilacoom, director, Environment Washington