The Fort Valley Experimental Forest (formerly the Coconino Experiment Station) was the first Forest Service research facility established in the nation when it opened in August 1908. The Riordan brothers, Flagstaff lumbermen, asked Gifford Pinchot to study why the ponderosa pine forest was not regenerating after logging. Fort Valley was a major field and laboratory site for forest management investigations.
As Fort Valley was the initial Forest Service research facility, scientists who visited or worked there reads like a Who's Who list: Emanuel Fritz, T.S. Woolsey, Jr. Enoch W. Nelson, Edward C. Crafts, Hermann Krauch, Bert Lexen, Charles Cooperrider, Clarence F. Korstian, and E.M. Hornibrook, among many others. A rumor persists that Gifford Pinchot tore his pants while going through a fence during a visit to the Wing Mountain Sample Plot.
Fort Valley's first responsibility was mensurational studies. Researchers studied natural and artificial regeneration, stand improvement, sample plots, climate - everything that might influence a tree's life.