In 1976, following the reform of the agrarian law, a group of landless peasant families decided to buy the land that is now part of the Santa Lucia Reserve. They formed an agricultural cooperative and began to clear areas of the forest in order to turn them into crops. Living and working in the forest was very hard; the steep soils, long distances to the market places, but satisfactory for families who for the first time owned a piece of land. They were able to make a living.
However, after being deforested, the land of the cloud forest degraded rapidly, and the environmental problems resulting from this way of agriculture became evident. In 1988, the area was declared part of the Protective Forest making hunting and logging illegal, which threatened families in their survival. The members of the cooperative started looking for other ways to make a living with their land and in the 1990s, they decided that ecotourism would allow them to protect the forest and generate income. In 1999 they began to build the lodge with fallen tree wood. Trails were built within the reserve with the valuable help of volunteers and other organizations such as: Maquipucuna, Rainforest Concern and Quest Overseas of the United Kingdom, thus the ecotourism project was born.