By Fred Obee

Triplicate editor

Thousands of Aleutian geese are gathering in Del Norte County, and now, a top Bush administration official may visit to take note of the environmental comeback.

The Del Norte County Board of Supervisors yesterday agreed to invite Secretary of the Interior Gale A. Norton to the Aleutian Goose Festival March 23-25 after hearing the Bush Administration had expressed an interest in coming.

Theres talk she may come here during the festival, McClure said, to publicize the delisting.

The delisting refers to a removal of the Aleutian goose from the endangered species list, a status the goose has carried since 1967 when only 500 were believed to exist in the world.

Today, flocks numbering in the tens of thousands stop in Del Norte County, resting at night on offshore islands and rising with dawns first light to move to feeding grounds inland.

The sight of so many birds darkening the sky is an experience that has almost been lost from the American landscape, said Goose Festival co-coordinator Rick Hiser. Yet in Del Norte County, this wildlife spectacle is still growing.

McClure said Bush administration officials in Sacramento came up with the idea of Nortons visit after finding the Goose Festival Web site on the Internet.

They called festival organizers and indicated Norton might be willing to make the trip, using the Goose Festival as a backdrop for delisting ceremonies.

The Board of Supervisors agreed Monday to offer an official invitation.