Bethany Hannah

MYSTERY RANCH Fire Ambassador


Olympia, WA


El Dorado Hills, CA


Program Manager – Urban Wood Rescue; small business owner - writer; historian

I never thought I'd be running an urban saw mill, but here I am – salvaging logs in the "City of Trees" (Sacramento, CA), building a program rescuing wood destined for the landfill for a wonderful nonprofit bent on telling the story of the full lifecycle of our urban forests. It's just one more unexpected bend in my career path that has meandered between wildland firefighting, conservation work, small business, consulting, logistics, and more. Looking back, I know I've just followed opportunities wherever they've taken me, but when it comes down to it, I love helping people, I thrive on finding solutions, and am driven by the belief that I can contribute to making this world a better place even if it means going about it in unconventional ways.

I've been blessed to live and work in both vibrant urban settings and stunning wildlands. I'm called to both, but find my peace when amongst trees, with the sound of water whispering and wind rustling in the background, my senses heightened, and my pace slowed. I find joy in solitude but am happy, at times, to get lost in the masses. It's taken me awhile to admit to myself that it's okay to not just be one thing; I can be city girl and yearn for the mountains, and I can be a mountain woman and crave the pavement every once in a while.


  • Fell my first tree with a cross cut saw in the backcountry of Alaska at 15 years old – went on to become one of the only female sawyers on a Hotshot Crew in the country (at that time) as a 23 year old wildland firefighter
  • Survived a mob attack and an attempted coup (unrelated) in Bolivia
  • Heard a ridgeline hum from a lightning storm in the middle of the Unitas
  • Fought fire in every state in the continental west (as well as Alaska, Canada, and Florida)
  • Managed to make an oral history project engaging and impactful
  • Had the unconditional love of an Irish Setter and, most importantly, my nieces and nephews think I'm kinda cool on good days and a little bit badass on the best days.


  • The American Wildfire Experience (President)
  • The Smokey Generation (Founder)
  • Sacramento Tree Foundation
  • Red Ants Pants Foundation
  • U.S. Hotshots Association

What Mystery Ranch Packs do you Run?

Hotshot, Hot Speed, 3 Way Briefcase Expandable, Mission Duffel, Booty Bag

Favorite quote(s):

"What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset." – Crowfoot

"As if you could kill time without injuring eternity." - Henry David Thoreau

I'm deeply passionate about the role of wildland fire in the environment. I started The Smokey Generation, a wildland fire oral history and digital storytelling project, several years ago to help tell the story of wildland fire and to begin to shift negative perceptions about its role on our landscapes. Because of how the project began to resonate among those in the wildland fire community, I recently expanded it into a nonprofit called The American Wildfire Experience. As part of the project, I've interviewed wildland firefighters from every decade from the 1940s to present, capturing their stories on video and sharing them on It has been one of the highlights of my life and, certainly, one of the most rewarding things I have ever undertaken. To capture the story of someone's life and career, to convey to them that their story is both interesting and important, and to share those stories and lessons with the greater community is incredibly impactful. I am deeply grateful that Mystery Ranch supports The Smokey Generation and the wildland firefighting community – there is both power in storytelling and in the examination of history. Using that power to provide context and enrich the lives of others contributes to the greater good – and that, by my estimation, is a worthwhile endeavor.