The N.C. Department of Transportation has a new tool for eliminating an invasive marsh grass near the Bodie Island Lighthouse. The NCDOT Division of Aviation and the Environmental Analysis Unit used drones to spray herbicide on an area overrun with Phragmites, an aggressive wetland grass that displaces other native plant and animal species. According to a news release, drones are preferred over helicopter or airplane based spraying because they use less herbicide; they can be programmed to target a specific area; and they fly at low altitudes, which reduces the amount of herbicide that’s blown away by the wind. In addition, drones are better suited for herbicide spraying operations because they are safer and more cost-effective than manned aircraft. The project, which recently wrapped up for the 2019 season, marks the first time a drone had been used for herbicide spraying on National Park Service land.