While the the cost of practically everything has gone up in the past year, Christmas tree prices appear to have held steady.

Christmas tree shoppers this year can expect to pay about the same as they did a year ago, with the cost of natural trees ranging from $7 to $70, and artificial ones selling from $18 to more than $300, according to area retailers.Drought conditions last summer apparently didn't affect the quality or supply of trees available on lots and nurseries along with Wasatch Front. Frank Lathrop, lot manager for Allied Development Co., said a lot of rain in November helped suppliers in Oregon, Idaho and Montana.

As many as 3,000 trees are being trucked in daily from Oregon to stock Allied's 32 selling lots. Lathrop said prices haven't changed much in the past four years as trees go for $6.99 for small two- and three-footers; $24.99 for 10-footers; and $6 per foot for trees above 10 feet in size.

The tallest tree Allied sells is 22 feet, Lathrop said, noting most large trees are purchased by area businesses.

For the discriminating buyer who doesn't pay as much attention to price as to quality, nurseries and gardening stores are also well stocked by suppliers in the Northwest.

Lon Clayton, president of Western Gardens, said his trees range in price from $7.88 to $130 depending on the size. Besides pre-cut trees, nurseries also sell live trees, which can be planted after the Christmas season. Prices for live trees range from $20 to $70, Clayton said.

For those who don't want the real thing, artificial trees at ZCMI are selling anywhere from $18 for 21/2-footers to $325 for a nine-foot tree with plastic branches and needles.

Cutting down your own tree also remains popular. But $5 Forest Service and State Land permits in areas close to the Salt Lake Valley sold out shortly after Thanksgiving. Permits for Forest Service land near Duchesne are still available, however.

The Bureau of Land Management is offering free permits to cut down juniper trees 15 miles southwest of Tooele. A spokesman said permits and maps to the St. Johns area are available in the BLM office at 2370 S. 23rd West.