These natural areas and cultural sites provide resources for scientific research; serve as reservoirs of natural and historical elements and habitats for rare and vanishing species. Visitors may observe natural biotic and environmental systems as areas for both study and enjoyment and as examples of the lands, structures and related artifacts which represent significant aspects of South Carolina’s historical and cultural heritage. As of 2008, more than 83,000 acres have been protected as Heritage Preserves.
The preserves are open for public educational and recreational uses during daylight hours in accordance with Heritage Preserve rules. Many are included in the WMA Program, with hunting and fishing allowed according to state regulations. Preserve boundaries are clearly marked with white Heritage Preserve signs.