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Alaska's naturalists can't find space on Marine Highway ships

Alaska's Marine Highway System, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, is ending its interpreter and naturalist program on all but one of its 11-ship fleet in 2013.

Interpreter programs on many ships began disappearing when funding from the federal government became less certain in recent years.

Without knowing for sure whether the federal government would pay for interpreters in the future, the Department of Transportation is hesitant to sign a contract to rent out a room for them.

That's space that could be used to transport Alaska's tourists and in-state travelers, according to the department.

The Department of Transportation, like other state departments, was asked to bring its expenses down by eliminating items that do not affect the department's core functions.

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