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Here is the actual verbiage issued from the USFS:
“Wilderness permits are not required, but they are highly recommended as a safety precaution for anyone going into one of San Bernardino National Forest’s eight wilderness areas. Wilderness permits provide a record of visitors to the area, which enables Forest Service personnel to monitor whether all visitors return. If you choose not to obtain a wilderness permit, it is highly recommend that you leave your itinerary with a friend or family member. Some signs leading to wilderness areas may have outdated information about permit requirements; the Forest Service is working to correct those as quickly as possible.”
I may be wrong on this, but I think one of the reasons the Wilderness was opened so fast after the Lake Fire is that there was a fairly accurate record of just how popular those trails are. If I were still able to be out on the trail, I’d want visitors to know that having a permit tells the FS these trails are important to people.