Please note that this is an old site and info is incorrect.


Directions to the Hitchcock Center

Directions to Groff Park, Amherst

Hitchcock Center for the Environment
525 S. Pleasant St.
Amherst, MA 01002
fax 413-253-2809


The Hitchcock Center for the Environment and the Rushing Rivers Institute, along with other community partners, join together in the spring to explore, steward and celebrate the river in our backyard—the Fort River. The Fort River is the longest, currently free flowing tributary of the Connecticut River in Massachusetts. We offer a series of events and programs throughout the season to celebrate the Fort River’s natural heritage and to build greater community participation and protection of this treasured natural resource. 

A culminating event, the annual Fort River Celebration Day is held in June and starts with a canoe/kayak trip down the river. The fun and exciting Rubber Ducky Race follows with children's activities, educational booths, and music. View photos from our 2011 event here.

This year's events and programs were great successes and we're very thankful for the many volunteers, donors, and sponsors who helped us. Visit us again in the spring of 2012 for our new series.


History of the Fort River and Its Story TodayThursday, March 24, 7pm,
Hitchcock Center

Did you know that the Fort River is the longest free-flowing tributary of the Connecticut River? Join the Hitchcock Center and Rushing Rivers Institute for the first part of our Fort River Discovery Series designed to increase awareness and conservation of the Fort River.  This free public program will tell the story of the Fort, past and present. Learn about the ecological significance of the Fort River and what kinds of river-modeling technology scientists from Amherst-based Rushing Rivers Institute are using today.

The Endangered Mussels of the Fort RiverTuesday, April 12, 7pm,
Hitchcock Center

The Fort River Discovery Series continues with a discussion of an important member of the Fort River habitat: freshwater mussels.  Sean F. Werle, an aquatic biologist at New England Environmental, Inc., has been working with freshwater mussels in New England for over 15 years. These fascinating creatures are often threatened by development and construction near the waters that they inhabit, and much of his work has involved protecting mussels from such impacts. Join us for a talk about the biology of these interesting animals, the threats that they face today, and what is being done to protect them.

Sea Lamprey with Expert Boyd KynardThursday, May 19, 7pm, Hitchcock Center

Come learn about one of the most fascinating, misunderstood fish of the Fort River! Sea lamprey are anadromous, meaning they spend most of their time in oceans but come to fresh water to breed.  Rivaling beavers for their stream engineering, sea lamprey are a keystone fish species of great ecological importance to both aquatic and riparian life. Boyd Kynard has studied the life history of sea lamprey in the Fort and Connecticut Rivers for more than 30 years and can tell this fish story.

Family River Romp and Clean UpMonday, May 30th, 1:30-3:30pm, Groff Park

Spend Memorial Day splashing around in the Fort River at Groff Park.  We will spend some time cleaning up this special river habitat, followed by some “X-stream” river exploration!  Join Hitchcock Center naturalist Ted Watt as we peek under rocks and logs to see who’s occupying this river in our backyard.  Come prepared to get wet!  Nets and trash bags will be provided, but please bring your own if you have them. 

Fort River Celebration Day

Saturday, June 4th, 9:30am-2pm, Stanley Park Field and Groff Park

The Fort River Celebration Day will be much like the Fort River Festival in years past.  Sign up for a canoe and kayak trip from Kiwanis Park Field on Stanley Street to Groff Park, followed by educational stations and a Rubber Ducky Race.  Or just join us at Groff Park after the river trip to learn about the river, lamprey, mussels and various fish and macro-invertebrates who call it home, then participate in the Rubber Ducky Race. 

10:00 am: Canoe/kayak trip down the Fort River and river ecology talks. Meet at Kiwanis Park Field on Stanley Street and end at Groff Park. (Shuttles will be available to take participants back to Kiwanis Park Field.)

Please call the Hitchcock Center at 413-256-6006 to either sign up for a canoe or kayak (first come, first serve) OR to let us know you're bringing your own. The canoe/kayak trip is free with a suggested donation of $20.
11:00 am:  Celebration at Groff Park with educational booths and activities for children.
1:00 pm: Rubber Ducky Race (Check back here for details on this year's exciting prizes for the whole family!)
2:00 pm: Event ends.

Visit for more information.

The Rubber Ducky Raffle and other donations support The Fort River Stewardship Project, a partnership between the Hitchcock Center for the Environment and Rushing Rivers Institute, both in Amherst, MA.  The Fort River is the longest undammed tributary of the Connecticut River and is home to among the greatest diversity of life in Massachusetts, including many endangered species and species of special concern, such as the dwarf wedgemussel. The goal of the Fort River Stewardship Project is to preserve the health and vitality of this unique backyard resource through river research and education.

Other Special Programs

In addition to the public programs listed above, the Hitchcock Center will be working with targeted groups and audiences to strengthen community engagement and participation in this Fort River Discovery series. These include:  1) A series of six additional programs entitled “The River in Your Backyard” sponsored by the Daily Hampshire Gazette and the Amherst Bulletin for families residing at Southpoint, Boulders, and Mill Valley Estate housing complexes; 2) special outreach to school classrooms to connect classroom curriculum tothe Fort River; and 3) greater emphasis on learning and exploring the Fort River through our summer camps.