Wildcat Lake closed in 2020

Edgar Tufts Memorial Association officials announced this week that due to COVID-19, Wildcat Lake in Banner Elk will remain closed for the rest of this summer season.

BANNER ELK — Officials with Wildcat Lake announced this week that the popular area destination will remain closed for the remainder of the summer in response to the current coronavirus pandemic.

“As we continue to see the number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to rise, the Edgar Tufts Memorial Association, in partnership with the Williams YMCA of Avery County and Children’s Hope Alliance, have made the difficult decision that Wildcat Lake will remain closed for the remainder of the summer season. The closure includes the lake, as well as the park and surrounding property,” a statement read in part from ETMA Board Chair Tom McAuliffe. “It is disappointing for many we are sure, but because we have the utmost concern for the safety and well-being of all concerned, we agree that it is in the best interest of the children and staff at the Grandfather Home campus and the local community to not open the lake this summer season.”

A popular local attraction, Wildcat Lake offers family friendly activities, including swimming, sunbathing, fishing and boating, with lifeguards on duty during summer hours and boating limited to non-motorized boats, canoes and kayaking. The 13-acre lake is the centerpiece of a public-access facility that includes a white sand beach, swimming pier and fishing dock.

The locale attracts thousands of visitors each summer, with an adjacent park (Tufts Memorial Park) that provides a bath house, picnic tables and three picnic shelters, all open to the public at no charge.

“As the lake is a wonderfully popular natural resource, maintaining sufficient lifeguards, trained by our YMCA, has added financial burdens to the obvious challenges wrought by the pandemic,” McAuliffe’s statement continued. “We continue to support COVID-19 safety protocols and look forward to a return to Wildcat Lake next summer with the active support of the community.”

Consistent with the decision to keep Wildcat Lake closed, the children and staff at Grandfather Home will not be able to use the lake this summer for swimming or water activities, as these activities require lifeguards who will not be present.

For more information or questions, contact Madison Cornwell, development officer with Grandfather Home for Children, at (828) 406-2424.

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