In 1987, a group of Talamancan residents started to meet to discuss their concerns about the rapid social, cultural, and economic changes accompanying the increase of tourism. In 1990, we became an incorporated grassroots non-profit organization and called ourselves Asociación Talamanqueña de Ecoturismo y Conservación, ATEC (/ah-tek/) for short.
By 1991, the main road into the region had been paved and made Talamanca more accessible. As new influences moved into the region, so did the new businesses to accommodate them. Private transportation, imported food, non-local guides, swimming pools, and entertainment. Noticing a loss of local culture and business opportunities, ATEC took measures to educate our neighbors about alternatives to selling off their family farms and to identify the value of the forests and our rich cultures. In 1992, ATEC developed and implemented the first program that trained sixteen local citizens to lead nature tours throughout the region, to be followed by more thereafter.