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Sheriff: Gravel pit site of drowning is public land

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The Minnesota gravel pit where a 25-year-old Fargo man drowned last week was on public property, not private land as previously reported, Forum Communications reports.

Authorities may not be able to do much to direct the tightening of security at the water-filled pit because it is Minnesota Department of Natural Resources land that is open to the public, Clay County Sheriff Bill Bergquist said, Forum reported. Bergquist had previously and erroneously said the land where Berge and his friends were swimming was private and they were there illegally. No-trespassing signs are posted near the pit near Felton, in far western Minnesota.

Joel Berge died while swimming with several friends in the pit, where water depths reach up to 100 feet. He disappeared at about 7:30 p.m. Thursday and his body was not found until about 90 minutes later.

Berge was raised in Fargo and graduated from Fargo North High School in 2006, his obituary noted. He worked as a finish and framing carpenter for several years, the obituary said. A private memorial service was planned. Mourners are leaving comments of shock and sympathy on a tribute page established by the funeral home.

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