Federal and state law officers are banding together in an effort to control the seasonal increase in evergreen tree thefts, Bureau of Land Management officials in Utah say.

BLM criminal investigators are working with local, state and county law enforcement officers to stop unauthorized Christmas tree cutting. This causes severe conservation problems in some areas, officials said.The perpetrators are both commercial sellers and "normally law-abiding citizens" who violate the permit systems that carefully allocate the numbers, type and locations where Christmas trees can be harvested on a sustained-yield basis, said BLM spokesman Don Banks.

This year, government officials intend to fight back by enforcing federal statutes and the Utah Forest Transportation Act, which regulates the transportation of woodland products, Banks said.

Conservationists said a "tough climate and human abuse" have resulted in a marginal overall condition of Utah tree populations, especially the popular pinon pine.