David Saenz stood by his little red tractor as the bulldozer edged ever closer to his property line Saturday morning.

As owner of J.S. Trophy Ranch, Saenz believes in the importance of owning a piece of land. He believes there is a sense of security inherent in investing in land.

Across the fence, the managers of the King Ranch believe the same.

A standoff is taking place along the Jim Wells County border with Kleberg County. It involves a handful of ranchers, some three miles of fence line and the historic King Ranch.

Saenz and several other land owners along the fence line south of Farm to Market Road 2508 received a letter two weeks ago from the general manager of land and minerals King Ranch, informing them of a survey recently completed by Brister Surveying of Corpus Christi.

The survey outlined a common border between the ranch properties and the northern portion of the King Ranch's Santa Gertrudis Division. The new survey was sent as a courtesy to the land owners, notifying them of the construction of a new boundary fence the ranch planned to build.

The survey itself was based on a filed Deed of Exchange dating from 1891 between Henrietta M. King and Robert Johnson, establishing the shared boundary line.

According to the letter, the new fence will require the fence line to move slightly north, as the survey indicated that the current fence was not on the surveyed boundary line.

One of the older ranchers who faces losing property in the fence construction said he recalled the fence line being right where it was when he was a young man, in 1961.

“I'm not going to allow it, just to let you know,” Saenz said to a representative of the ranch who was supervising the fence construction nearby Saturday. The man had walked up to the fence line to ask Saenz to move the tractor back some distance, to allow the earth mover to come through. “I think it would benefit everybody if you would just move forward a bit,” the man said.

When confronted by the Alice Echo-News Journal, the man declined to speak to the ranchers in the presence of the media. The Jim Wells County Sheriff's Department was called in concerning the situation. The deputy was on the scene within minutes and spoke to the representative from the King Ranch, giving him a verbal trespass warning.

The deputy also accompanied Corpus Christi attorney and area land owner Mike Hummell to his property, to detail where the current fence line sits with relation to the boundary the King Ranch is proposing for the new fence.

Fence construction stopped short of the JS Trophy Ranch, but on Monday, workers were seen moving their fence operations to the opposite side of the fence line, some three miles away from where they stopped on Saturday.

“The deputy told them those people don't get to go on this property on this side of the fence until they go to court and have gotten authority to come in here. And the deputy told them, anybody who trespasses can be arrested,” Hummell said.

“The fence is the boundary now. If they want to change it, they can, but they have to go to the courthouse. They can't just claim that their fence needs to be somewhere else and move it. It just doesn't work that way,” Hummell said.

The Alice Echo-News Journal attempted to contact Scott H. Detwiler, the Senior Landman for King Ranch, Inc. who was the individual responsible for inquiries regarding the survey. The office number given was not in service, and there was no answer on Detwiler's cell phone on Monday.

In the case of Saenz's property, the new fence would cut into his property some 18 feet on one end to 26 feet on the other.