Strip and Gore Doctrine Law and Legal Definition
The strip and gore doctrine which is primarily associated with Texas provides that unless the grantor explicitly reserves with plain and specific language in the deed a fee in a narrow strip of land adjoining the conveyed land, it is presumed that a grantor has no intention of reserving a fee in a narrow, adjoining strip of land when the strip ceases to be of use by virtue of the conveyance. It is well known that separate ownership of long narrow strips of land, distinct from the land adjoining on each side, is a fruitful source of litigation and disputes. To avoid this source of contention, it is presumed that a grantor has no intention of reserving a fee in a narrow strip of land adjoining the land conveyed when it ceases to be of use to him, unless such fee is clearly reserved. In short, unless the parties make it clear that a fee is intended; it is presumed that they did not intend to create an otherwise unusable interest in land. The strip and gore doctrine can have application only when the specific strip is not included in the field notes of the conveyance. If it is so included, it would pass under the conveyance.
The strip and gore doctrine is best understood as a rule of construction that is meant to apply where the parties' intent cannot be discerned by other means.
The doctrine applies to surface as well as mineral rights.
The following are examples of case law discussing the doctrine:
The conveyance of strips of land in fee is disfavored in some states as a matter of public policy and therefore gives rise to a presumption that the conveyance of a strip of land is an easement rather than a fee. This is commonly referred to as the "strip and gore doctrine." However, the Idaho Supreme Court has expressly declined to apply the strip and gore doctrine to railroad deeds.[Hash v. United States, 2001 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 24898 (D. Idaho Nov. 26, 2001)]
The requirements for applying the strip and gore doctrine are as follows: It is the court's conclusion that this doctrine was conceived and intended to apply to relatively narrow strips of land, small in size and value in comparison to the adjoining tract conveyed by the grantor. In these instances, when it is apparent that the narrow strip has ceased to be of benefit or importance to the grantor of the larger tract, it can be presumed that the grantor intended to convey such a strip. The strip and gore doctrine requires the strip (1) to be small in comparison to the land conveyed, (2) to be adjacent to or surrounded by the land conveyed, (3) to belong to the grantor at the time of conveyance, and (4) to be of insignificant or little practical value. Although case law has stated the fourth requirement is that the strip has to be of insignificant or little practical value, the court believe the fourth requirement should be stated as in other case law: the strip has ceased to be of benefit or importance to the grantor of the larger tract.[Escondido Servs.,LLC v. VKM Holdings, LP, 2010 Tex. App. LEXIS 4260 (Tex. App. Eastland June 3, 2010)]
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