Unrelated to everything but one tiny portion of the wide net you threw (as always), Miles Standish was the executor of my great-grandfather's to the nth removal will. A weird fact that always comes to mind when I hear Michael Stipe sing his name in "Begin the Begin."
Speaking of the original apocalyptic wasteland...
Dark Emu, by Bruce Pascoe, is a good read into why Australia looks the way it does now. And that's Sheep. The First Australians tended the land better, with prescribed burns and planting, which kept the scrub from taking over. Yams and native grasses that fight erosion were gobbled up by the invasive livestock. There are multiple colonist narratives that describe land looking like manicured English parks and forests that are overgrown with impenetrable scrub now.
Good luck with revisions!
Chris - your discussion of the term wasteland brings to mind some of MacFarlane's points made in his book Landmarks which I'm sure you've purused. His book is a rich exploration and your approach to understanding our relationship to the world via the power of words (you are a lawyer!) is a delight. Catch you soon I hope.
as an amateur herstorian in n of massachusetts, loved this meeting with texas in MA :) i've read a little and written a bit on that mary mount, lovely to see the pictures and hear of your exploration