Skip to comments.Csonka pleads guilty to filming on federal land without permits
Posted on 02/02/2006 7:33:25 AM PST by 11x62
Former NFL star Larry Csonka, the host of a cable television outdoors show, pleaded guilty Wednesday to illegal filming on national forest lands.
As part of a plea agreement with federal prosecutors, Csonka pleaded guilty to knowingly conducting work activity in a national forest without obtaining a special use permit.
Csonka agreed to pay $3,887 in restitution for filming about 10 shows on U.S. Forest Service land, said assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Goeke.
At sentencing April 19, Goeke said, prosecutors will request a sentence of probation for one year and a $5,000 fine.
Csonka could not be reached for comment Wednesday afternoon.
Csonka is host of "NAPA's North to Alaska," billed as a show on fishing, hunting, history and customs that explores a new area of Alaska each week. The show appears on the Outdoor Life Network.
According to the U.S. Attorney's office, Csonka admitted that his production company, Zonk! Productions, in August 2002 filmed an episode of what was then called "Stihl's North to Alaska" along the Blind River Area on Mitkoff Island in the Tongass National Forest. The episode was broadcast in May 2003.
A crew filmed another episode in September 2005 in the Alaganik Slough at Cordova, part of the Chugach National Forest, and again did not obtain a special use permit for commercial work, prosecutors said.
Csonka agreed that as a condition of probation, he will not film without obtaining all required permits, Goeke said.
According to prosecutors, Zonk! Productions has filmed in Alaska since 1998.
The maximum penalty for the misdemeanor offense is six months in prison, a $10,000 fine and five years probation.
In September, Csonka was one of six people rescued by the Coast Guard during a harrowing night aboard a rolling and pitching 28-foot boat in the Bering Sea.
Csonka, his partner, a film crew and a guide had been hunting for reindeer on remote Umnak Island in the Aleutian Islands while filming an episode for his television show.
Heading to the Aleut village of Nikolski on the southwest side of the island, the vessel encountered 40-knot winds and waves the Coast Guard said were 9 feet high and those on board said reached 20 feet.
Five miles from the village, the skipper sent out a distress call. Villagers used vehicle headlights to try to guide the vessel but high seas pushed the boat away.
A Coast Guard helicopter from Kodiak lifted off the six people on board one by one using a basket. The vessel was abandoned.
Csonka was a much-heralded fullback at Syracuse University and a first-round draft choice by the Miami Dolphins in 1968.
He appeared with the Dolphins in three Super Bowls from 1971 to 1973 and played on the Dolphin team that was 17-0 in 1972.
He retired in January 1980 and was elected to the pro football Hall of Fame in 1987.
This is what brought them to the attention of the authorities.
Helicopter rescues at sea probably cost a lot of money.
Who even knew this was illegal???
But then, some sports icons feel that they can get away with a lot of things we lesser mortals can't.
I recently took a picture of my wife on federal lands; am I guilty,or does this only apply to "commercial" ventures?
Unless the making of this show had some special impact on the land, this has to be one of the mildest crimes possible
Wow, that will teach him!
I was opposed to the feds charging anyone for filming/photographing on federal lands when this policy was adopted back in the early 1990s. Still am.
These are supposed to be PUBLIC lands remember?
How is this insanity?
Hey, what's up with this? I want to see his shows filmed on Fed land. As a person with a disability, and confined to a wheelchair, I will most likely never be able to see these remote areas. His show allowed me access. This stinks!!! And I protest the court's action.
Doesn't make much sense to me.
Yes, you are right. I don't have a problem with the feds charging for people taking stupid/dangerous risks and for the rescue costs.
I do, howewver, have a problem with them charging the public to photograph/film on PUBLIC property.
Post the pic on your web page, get some google ads to run, and bang! You're a perp.
Was alcohol involved?
Good point. I was opposed to this when the policy was adopted by the feds during the Clinton Administration. The fees the feds charge are outrageous.
Besides this is supposed to be PUBLIC lands, purchased by, and maintained with public tax money. Basically the law states they can charge those who photograph/film for commercial purposes, but the charge is so steep it would keep most smalltime writers/photograhers from doing so.
I agree, but it probably would never have come up if they hadn't been reckless and created a situation that endangered themselves and their rescuers.
This is the only thing they could find to charge them with, probably.
Is this America?
Remember when the government was shut down and every network went to National Parks and did pieces on how people giving sleigh rides were going to suffer?
Where's their fine?
I wasn't aware that you needed a permit to shoot a movie or tv show on federal land. Interesting. Thing is...if you've ever been around a movie or tv shoot, you know that it can involve a lot of folks, and possibly even some disruption of normal activities. That's why you have to have permits in cities to film professionally.
The only thing worse, for example, than a professional bass tournament on a lake you were planning to fish is a crew filming one of those fishing shows.
It happened to me...once. I was out on my favorite lake, fishing for northern pike, when about 6 boats zoomed up into the area I was fishing. Camera boats, the fishing show host's boat, a support boat, a boat full of nothing but tackle, a security boat, and some random boats doing what, I don't know.
So, I've been fishing the weed edge in this cove for about an hour, when this bunch of yahoos comes roaring in. One of the boats split off from the group and some guy in it tells me they're shooting the "XXXX XXXXXX" show, and I'm going to have to leave the area.
I explained to him that he was on a public lake, and that I had been there long before he and his bunch of cretins blew in. I further explained how he might perform a seemingly impossible sexual act upon himself.
I left anyhow, because it wasn't going to be much fun fishing that cove, but I was really ticked off.
This is why permits are required in many places. I have no idea whether one was required on that lake.
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I can see a problem with allowing a huge film crew filming a movie to tramp over the land while leaving a mess. However, Mr Csonka's show, I would guess, has a very small film crew, maybe one guy. Besides, what the heck is wrong with taking pictures?
Who even knew this was illegal???
Permits? Permits? He don't need no steenkin' permits! (or shouldn't. It IS public land).
I have some experience with film permits. Permits are required when filming for any commercial or non-personal use. Students, non-profits, etc. can often get a film permit free of charge.
When you sign for the permit, you state where you will film and what you will film.
The parks are protecting themselves from liability and limiting the damage to the park that a film crew/set can cause.
I hope he didn't, GASP, do the unthinkable.....use a gas powered snowmobile.
This is the Damnedest thing I've ever heard of.I guess I can see the point of the law, but once again unintended consequences.How could this ever be policed? It makes a criminal of lot's of people.
Makes perfect sense to me. Who knew about Czonkas shows before...and who will know now;-)
Pretty cheap advertising costs...bout 8-9 grand. Not bad at all.
So, if they did not secure permits beforehand, is it legal for average tourists who take beautiful nature photos in national parks to have them sold on sites like Webshots? Does that not become commercial use?
"Besides, what the heck is wrong with taking pictures?"
Because he didn't have the required govt microchip implanted in his forehead.
I'm only barely joking. Just filming is no ones stinking business.
Tramping around with 30 people and 10 vehicles would be much different however.
"pleaded guilty to knowingly conducting work activity in a national forest without obtaining a special use permit."
Ever take your laptop along to do some work on your Yellowstone trip? Scofflaws like that deserve the max!!!
America - Land of the Free, Home of the Brave. Provided you have the right permits, of course.
I knew it. This policy (to charge photographers/film crews) on public lands was adopted during the Clinton Administration years, and I was opposed to it then.
The problem is the fees are outrageous, so a smalltime writer/photographer is basically shut out of doing these on public lands. These photographers/writers generally make up a crew of a few people, and very unlikely to cause any environmental damage. This is part of the package the public got when the USFS, etc., began charging fees for the public to camp on, use, national forests.
The worst part of it is, the people working in the parks to "protect" them actually act as if they own them.
Like a friend always tells me, "a nickle job with a dime's worth of authority".
This case is just one that underscores the need for "less government".
Ladies and Gentlemen there are millions of federal laws and regulations. The feds can come down on nearly anyone at any time for the flimsiest of reasons. And they can spend an unlimited amount of resources to do it. It is truly amazing.
It's not just Federal lands.
I do some hi-def wildlife filming, and I have an underwater case.
I went to video some Manatees at a state park here, and you would have thought I took a gun to hunt them. The rangers were very heavy in their questioning to assure that I wasn't engaged in commercially filming them. I responded that I knew the rules, including staying at least fifty feet from the manatees, but I explained with zoom and the clarity of the water that was no problem.
They then closed the swimming area down completely.
It's bad enough that I pay 80.00 a year to access the state parks. But if you do want to film commercially on the state parks, you must negotiate the fee with the head ranger at each park. - state sponsored capitalism - ( or good ol boy network) - you choose.
No. They bought the Matthew Lesko book and now they know how to get the government to PAY FOR THEIR VIDEO!!!!!!!!!???????
" . . . some guy in it tells me they're shooting the "XXXX XXXXXX" show, and I'm going to have to leave the area."
You know what, I have fished in tournaments, although I prefer fishing just for fun. However, if somebody in a tournament, or a tournament official, ever comes up to me on a lake and tells me I have to leave, I'll remind him/her that this is a PUBLIC resource, and that the tournament organization is making a profit off of a PUBLIC resource.
I'd tell him he has NO BUSINESS/Authority ordering me off a public resource. Then I'd get the tournament director's name and phone number, report this idiot, and threaten to contact the state wildife agency, local officials, etc. Believe you me, the tournament director will freak!!!!
Then, MineralMan, I think I'd of stayed in that spot just to aggravate the idiot. I'd hold a rock throwing contest or something (not at the anglers, but in the spot they are fishing). Heck, I might even have to go wading, swimming if the weather permits. I've always wanted to be a movie star and this would be a good chance (grin). This guy was WAY out of line, and I can't think of any tournament director that would condon his actions.
On most major reservoirs, where big tournaments are held, there is no permit required (except maybe to launch your boat).
Let this be a warning to those who would even think about developmen of energy in Alaska.
if larry was driving an SUV, tack on another year!
Soooo....when that bear jumps outta the trees, and I don't have a permit to film a BEAR, I'm illegal? /sarcasm.....sorry, but, I want my America back.
I was going to suggest you also take a leak off the front of the boat....until I read your screen name, LOL!