Northern white cedar (Thuja occidentalis) stands throughout the upper Midwestern United States have failed to consistently recruit individuals to the canopy for several decades. We recorded the abundance of cedar seedlings and saplings in 23 lowland cedar stands in the Great Divide District of the Chequamegon National Forest, WI. We discovered that seedlings (height < 22 cm) were common throughout the study area but recruitment of cedar was extremely low. Only three large saplings (height > 100 cm) were counted across all transects, and small saplings (height = 22 to 100 cm) were also rare. Furthermore, over 60% of the small saplings exhibited browse damage. Density of seedlings was positively related to distance to roads, cedar basal area, and the proportion of cedar and non-wetland coniferous forest in a 1 km radius. The presence of small saplings was negatively related to the proportion of mature deciduous forest in a 1 km radius, dense canopy cover, and high edge-to-area ratios of the cedar stand. We discuss the implications of timber harvesting practices and ungulate population management on the long term persistence of northern white cedar in the Chequamegon National Forest.