Beginning with the Swampland Act of 1845, and later the 1907 Everglades Drainage Act, excessive drainage activities occurred in the Everglades to pave the way for agriculture and development. To meet the ever-increasing water needs of agriculture and population expansion, three water storage areas called Water Conservation Areas 1, 2, and 3 were constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the 1940s. Bounded by levees and connected by a series of canals, these areas were placed under the jurisdiction of what is now the South Florida Water Management District (the District), an agency of the State of Florida.
In 1951, a license agreement between the South Florida Water Management District and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, under the Migratory Bird Conservation Act, enabled the establishment of the 143,954-acre Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge (the 216th refuge in the system) at Water Conservation Area 1. Loxahatchee NWRs name was changed in 1986 under public law 99-615 to include a noted local conservationist Arthur Raymond Marshall. This "refuge interior" land, as it is called, is owned by the State of Florida, but managed by the Service. The license agreement was later amended to include the 1,604-acre Strazzulla Marsh, which lies adjacent to Water Conservation Area 1. In addition to the lands licensed from the District, the Fish and Wildlife Service owns 2,550 acres to the east and west of the refuge interior. This acreage is sub-divided into four management compartments A,B,C,D, and the Cypress Swamp.
Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge is the only remnant of the northern Everglades in Palm Beach County, Florida. To the northwest of the refuge is the Everglades Agriculture Area which includes sugar cane farms, winter vegetables, sod farms, and cattle ranches. The land east of the refuge is predominately urban with the exception of the agricultural lands of the East Coast Buffer area. To the south and southwest of the refuge lie Water Conservation Areas 2 and 3, and Everglades National Park the only remaining portions of the Everglades fresh water marsh.