Strips and Gores Hurdle to Intended Reservation of Small Strip of Land
Contributor, Zackary Callarman
The strips and gores doctrine provides a presumption that a narrow strip of land adjoining the subject lands is included in a conveyance of the subject lands unless the grantor plainly and specifically reserves the strip in the deed by plain and specific language. The presumption applies when the strip of land (1) is small in comparison to the land conveyed, (2) is adjacent to or surrounded by the land conveyed, (3) belonged to the grantor at the time of the conveyance, and (4) was of no benefit or importance to the grantor. However, the presumption applies only when the deed “is ambiguous with regard to whether it conveys the strip at issue.”
Pursuant to the doctrine, a conveyance of land bounded by a public highway presumably conveys fee title of the oil, gas and minerals to the center of the highway, unless that presumption is rebutted by the express terms of the grant (assuming, of course, that the oil, gas and minerals were reserved in the conveyance creating the highway). Moreover, a legal description defining the subject lands as extending only to the boundary of a highway will not overcome the presumption that the conveyance extends to the center of said highway.
The undersigned recently encountered the following language in a mineral deed:
It is understood and agreed that the Lands are limited to the area specifically described by metes and bounds on Exhibit ‘A’ hereto, and that the Lands do not include any of the following: (i) any interest of Grantor in any easements or roads called for as a boundary to the lands, (ii) any interest of Grantor in easements or roads adjacent to or adjoining the Land even if referred to in the description of the Lands, (iii) any small strips or parcels of land now or hereafter owned by Grantor which are contiguous or adjacent to the Lands and (iv) any small areas of land commonly referred to as ‘strips and gores’ which are adjacent to or adjoin the Lands.
Though the above referenced language indicated that the Grantor intended to reserve all of its interest in any strips of land, easements, roads, and/or strips and gores abutting or adjacent to the subject lands, it is likely that the language was not sufficient to overcome application of the strips and gores doctrine because it did not plainly and specifically reserve any particular strip of land adjoining the lands conveyed. Restated, the language utilized in the deed was sufficiently vague as to not effectuate a reservation of any specific narrow strip of land adjoining the subject lands.
While Texas courts have held that a metes and bounds description excluding a small strip of land was sufficient to overcome the strips and gores presumption on account that it evidenced the Grantor’s plain and deliberate intent to not convey the strip, there is a strong argument that a court would interpret a blanket reservation of strips and gores adjoining the land conveyed as not sufficiently plain and specific to overcome the presumption.
For the landowner that wishes to reserve a small strip or strips of land adjacent to the lands conveyed, they should ensure that that the metes and bounds description of the lands conveyed is unambiguous, in that it does not encroach upon the strip to be reserved (which would plainly and specifically evidence an intent to not convey said strip). Alternatively, a landowner could provide a metes and bounds description for the strip intended to be reserved from the conveyance when making the reservation in the deed.
The above information is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted or construed as legal advice on any subject matter, and may not represent current legal developments. Any person viewing the above should seek legal advice from a licensed attorney prior to acting or refraining from acting, based upon the information provided above. Mazurek, Alford & Holliday, P.C., expressly disclaims all liability with respect to actions taken or not taken based upon any or all of the contents of the information provided above.
 See Escondido Servs., LLC v. VKM Holdings, LP, 321 S.W.3d 102, 106 (Tex. App—Eastland 2010, no pet.), citing Angelo v. Biscamp, 441 S.W.2d 524, 526 (Tex. 1969).
 Alkas v. United Sav. Ass’n of Tex., Inc., 672 S.W.2d 852, 857 (Tex.App.–Corpus Christi 1984, writ ref’d n.r.e.).
 Woolaver v. Texaco, Inc., 594 S.W.2d 224, 225 (Tex.Civ.App.–Fort Worth 1980, no writ).
 Id., citing State v. Williams, 335 S.W.2d 834, 836 (Tex. 1960).
 Hopkins v. State, No. 03-07-00253-CV, 2009 Tex. App. WL 3806160 (Tex. App. – Austin Nov. 13, 2009, no pet.) (mem. op., not designated for publication).